At the Company’s Annual General Meeting to be held later today in London, Sir Stanley Clarke, Chairman of St. Modwen Properties PLC, will make the following remarks on current trading:
“In my statement in the 2002 Annual Report, I said that the current financial year had started well. I am delighted to confirm that since I made that statement in February, we have continued to record good progress.
We have secured profits for 2003 on sales already completed or exchanged of £11m with an additional £5m of profit in solicitors’ hands.
Despite the weakening economic climate we continue to secure commitments with occupiers to take pre-let or pre-sold industrial and distribution space. Agreements in respect of 150,000 sq.ft of new buildings have been entered into already this year, with further substantial space under negotiation.
The market for well-let investments remains strong and we have been achieving higher prices for completed developments than we had planned.
On an annualised basis, the gross portfolio rent receivable, including our share of joint ventures has increased since the year-end by £6.1m (18%) to £40.6m. Acquisitions net of disposals added £5.7m and we reduced our void space with £400,000 of additional rent from new lettings.
We continue to develop further relationships with Government bodies and Local Authorities such as our development agreement with SWERDA (South West of England Regional Development Agency).
This £30m development of an urban village at Dursley, Stroud, Gloucestershire will include 600 dwellings and new employment premises. We have also been selected by Welwyn Hatfield Council and English Partnerships as the preferred development partner for the regeneration of Hatfield Town Centre. This will be a mixed-use scheme of retail, leisure, office and community uses of over 200,000 sq.ft together with upwards of 140 residential units with a total end value of over £60m. It is also particularly pleasing to note that we have finally received planning permission for the West Pier at Brighton where, despite recent setbacks, redevelopment plans are proceeding as expected.
We cannot remain immune from the slow-down that is being reported by others. However, our portfolio of existing cost-effective space and well located, competitively priced land will, together with our exposure to a wide range of occupier markets, ensure that your company should remain among the top performers even in these challenging times.
I continue, therefore, to look forward with confidence to yet another record year.”