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We are navigating a clear, decisive line through tough conditions, taking effective action today while creating strong foundations for growth tomorrow.
We have experienced 12 months of difficult and unpredictable conditions. Few businesses have been untouched by wider economic and financial issues, and the property sector has certainly been in the teeth of a very sharp downturn.
Over many years, we have succeeded by being strong in managing day-to-day operations while maintaining a long-term perspective on value generation.
This approach continued to guide our actions through a demanding 2008/09. In particular, we kept a tight focus on three priorities - the need to act decisively and protect value today, while planning well ahead for tomorrow.
This annual report outlines our three priorities in more detail. And it discusses the actions we are taking to ensure the Group can compete hard today while preparing for growth tomorrow.
We are completing sales to strengthen our balance sheet
Corporate transaction, City of London
We have not been afraid to sell key assets to protect our long-term financial position. Take the sale of Trillium. We acquired the business in 2000 and it prospered as part of Land Securities, generating value for shareholders. We concluded that Trillium would not be part of the Group in the long term and the sale proceeds strengthened our balance sheet at a critical point in the cycle.
- Completed on 12 January 2009
- We retained Accor hotel portfolio
- Trillium produced a stronger return on capital under our ownership than conventional investment property
We are taking tough, pragmatic decisions early
Trinity Quarter scheme, Leeds
Timing the delivery of a major new scheme is challenging at the best of times. In a volatile market it's even tougher. But that hasn't stopped us taking a pragmatic approach to pipeline developments, including Trinity Quarter in Leeds. Originally planned for 2011, we now aim to open this retail development for Christmas 2012. That means we can take advantage of a competitive construction market while preparing to open in better economic conditions with an exciting mix of retailers. To mitigate risk we are seeking to secure lettings before we start construction.
Trinity Quarter will:
- Address strong demand in one of the UK's largest cities
- Create a premier shopping centre in Leeds
- Integrate with remodelled Leeds Shopping Plaza in the heart of Leeds' city centre
- Rejuvenate historic thoroughfares
We are responding quickly to changing conditions
Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth
The toughest market conditions on record have inspired us to pioneer new forms of collaboration. In Retail this helped us deliver just under 300 new lettings. We also improved tenant satisfaction levels this year, despite the impact of recession. Our approach meant we were one of the first organisations to introduce a basis for monthly rent options. We've worked closely with retailers to reduce service charges and simplify lease agreements. And our teams have helped tenants maximise performance through innovative marketing, promotions and flexible formats.
We are maximising revenue through asset management
Piccadilly Lights, London
We are getting more from existing assets by combining experience with innovation. Take Piccadilly Lights. This year we've enhanced income by enabling Barclays Bank to open
a new flagship branch and upgrading conventional neon signage to flexible LED displays. We're also pioneering trials of Bluetooth technology to help retailers connect with the one million people who visit the site each week. We expect to gain significant rent increases as more global brands recognise the unique value of this iconic London asset.
We are developing even stronger customer relationships
New Street Square, London
We have streamlined property management across the Company, so local teams now work directly with customers. This means we can respond faster and provide support services based on a deeper understanding of our tenants' business needs. Value for money remains critical, and we're working with customers to ensure we maintain high levels of service while minimising cost. We're also introducing cost-effective space options, increasing investment in retail promotions and providing guidance on sustainability issues.
- London Portfolio achieved an overall customer satisfaction rating of 3.8
- Retail Portfolio achieved an overall customer satisfaction rating of 3.85
We are meeting people's needs and aspirations
Cabot Circus, Bristol
Cabot Circus was 91% occupied on opening this year, a remarkable feat in the current economic climate that highlights our ability to identify and satisfy demand for great new retail destinations. The centre inspires a powerful sense of place, with a gigantic glass roof connecting seven distinctive sites, and a wonderful open-air piazza integrating with the historic buildings of Quakers Friars. The development has become the beating heart of the city - a vibrant, welcoming environment that provides people with opportunities to shop, eat, relax and socialise.
The new Cabot Circus shopping centre
- Developed by the Bristol Alliance, our 50:50 joint venture with Hammerson
- Created 92,000m2 of city centre retail and leisure space
- Won BREEAM Award for Sustainability
- Won British Council of Shopping Centres' Supreme Gold Award
- Won 'Best Shopping Centre of the Year', MAPIC EG Retail Awards
Plan well ahead
We are managing risk in a changing market
One New Change, EC4
The City market is tough, but our mixed-use One New Change development was designed to have a wider appeal. It now offers both office and retail tenants flexible space with breathtaking views of St Paul's Cathedral, together with a unique public realm. The shops will address an under-served market of residents, City workers and tourists - seven days a week. No wonder there's already strong interest from retailers, and 38% of the office space is pre-let.
We are continuing to lead on sustainability
Elements Square, Livingston
Elements Square in Livingston is the first covered retail scheme to receive a BREEAM 'Excellent' rating for environmental performance. Sustainability informs every corner of the scheme, from the super-lightweight roof - designed to achieve the optimum balance between daylight and solar heat gains - to the high proportion of recycled and sustainable timber used in construction. Rainwater is collected and reused and solar panels help heat water. We even employ an ecologist to advise on landscaping.
Solar and temperature sensors cause the upper air chamber to be pressurised allowing light to penetrate through the gestalt graphics.
As internal temperatures and solar gains increase, the lower air chamber is pressurised reducing the level of light and solar gain penetrating the space.
We are creating excellent opportunities for future development
We have been developing in Victoria for 40 years. Now, with planning permission for our Victoria Transport Interchange plan (VTI2) granted in February 2009, we are set to transform the area around the railway station. Our development will replace outdated pockets of buildings with new offices, shops, restaurants, homes and public space. The scheme builds on the success of our mixed-use Cardinal Place development and provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to rejuvenate one of central London's most valuable sites.