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Crown Estate returns nudge up despite difficult retail market

The royal family’s commercial property arm said the results came amid a challenging year for the retail sector.

The royal family’s commercial property arm delivered £329.4 million to Treasury coffers last year amid what it described as a “challenging and uncertain market”.

The Crown Estate, which owns large swathes of land and property across Britain, said income was up 4% compared with last year on a like-for-like basis, driven by its offshore wind portfolio and retail lettings in central London.

It pointed to new lets in Regent Street and St James’s, including Microsoft, Asics and L’Occitane, as having helped deliver a boost.

Nearly 260,000 sq ft of retail and office space was let throughout central London over the period, raking in total rent of £30 million.

The Crown Estate said the results came amid a challenging year for the retail sector, in which the high street has seen several high-profile casualties and hundreds of store closures.

It has been an exciting year and we have begun to pivot the business away from a traditional bricks-and-mortar approach towards a more customer-focused, services-based model Crown Estate chairman Robin Budenberg

Crown Estate chairman Robin Budenberg said: “It has been an exciting year and we have begun to pivot the business away from a traditional bricks-and-mortar approach towards a more customer-focused, services-based model, so we are preparing to take advantage of the trends that are transforming how people want to work, live and socialise in the future.”

The group said its property portfolio value had risen by 6.8% to £13.3 billion in the past year, while its capital value had stepped up 7.3% to £14.1 billion.

The results means the organisation has now returned a total of £2.7 billion for the public finances over the past 10 years.

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It has been a tough year for retail (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Chief executive Alison Nimmo said: “Our highly skilled team has delivered another great set of results this year, against a backdrop of a challenging and uncertain market.

“This success has been built on a disciplined focus on creating high-quality service and experiences for our customers in the best locations, and an approach to business that looks beyond short-term volatility to deliver long-term, sustainable outperformance.”

Total income returned to the Treasury last year was £328.8 million, which included cash from operations devolved to Scottish Ministers in April.

This year’s figures exclude Scotland as the management and returns from these holdings now sits with Scottish Government.

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