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Watkin Jones plc (WJG)

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Thursday 05 April, 2018

Watkin Jones plc

Pre-Close Trading Statement

RNS Number : 8705J
Watkin Jones plc
05 April 2018
 

For immediate release

5 April 2018

 

 

Watkin Jones plc

('Watkin Jones' or the 'Group')

 

Pre-Close Trading Statement

 

Watkin Jones plc (AIM:WJG), a leading UK developer and constructor of multi occupancy property assets, with a focus on the student accommodation and build to rent sectors, announces its pre-close trading statement for the half year ended 31 March 2018 (the 'period').

 

The Board is pleased to report a strong trading performance in the first six months of the financial year, in line with its expectations.

 

Student Accommodation

In the period, good progress has been made in the student accommodation development business.  As announced on 23 March 2018, Watkin Jones has now secured a development pipeline in excess of 9,800 beds, with over 8,300 beds having already received planning consent.  All the developments due for delivery ahead of the 2018/19 academic year (3,415 beds) and a further five schemes (2,675 beds) currently scheduled to be delivered ahead of the 2019/20 academic year have been forward sold.  The Group is actively marketing a number of further schemes scheduled to be delivered ahead of both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years and is seeking to secure forward sales for these developments in the second half of the financial year.

 

Build to Rent

The Group has continued to push forward with a number of opportunities in the build to rent sector.  In the first half of the year, planning consents have been secured for three sites located in Bournemouth, Sheffield and Sutton, increasing the pipeline of owned sites with planning to approximately 700 units.  The Group has also secured a significant development site in Uxbridge and is progressing the planning consent.  In total, the Group is now in control of five build to rent development sites and remains in positive negotiations on several other opportunities, from which it expects to deliver over 1,500 units in the next five years.
 

Fresh Property Group ('FPG')

FPG currently has 16,185 student accommodation beds and 533 build to rent units under management, across 58 schemes.  As advised in the Group's FY17 full year results issued on 15 January 2018, Watkin Jones anticipated that as a consequence of the sale by the Curlew Student Trust ("CST") of a portfolio of 14 schemes (the 'Enigma' portfolio), comprising 5,124 beds, it was likely that the management of the schemes concerned would be taken in house by the new owner.  FPG has since agreed to provide full management services for these schemes until 30 April 2018, after which they will continue to provide financial reporting services for the schemes until at least September 2018.  FPG will be fully compensated for any difference in the level of fees receivable over the remaining periods of the existing contracts. Excluding the Enigma schemes, FPG is currently contracted to manage 14,016 student accommodation beds from the start of the 2018/19 academic year.  The recent successful launch of Curlew Student Trust 2 ('CST2'), an investment vehicle focused on UK student accommodation for which FPG is the preferred property manager, provides an additional opportunity for future business growth.  FPG is working with CST2 in appraising several new schemes.

 

Outlook

The Group's progress in implementing its operational and strategic objectives is encouraging and the Board remains confident in the outlook for the full year and beyond.

 

Mark Watkin Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Watkin Jones plc, said: "I am delighted with the Group's performance in the period.  The outlook for the UK purpose built student accommodation market is positive and demand for our high-quality product remains strong.  FPG continues to be successful in securing new contracts and, from the start of the 2018/19 academic year, is contracted to manage over 14,000 beds.

 

"We continue to make solid progress in the build to rent sector, having successfully acquired five build to rent development sites. We remain in positive negotiations on several other opportunities and will update the market as these opportunities progress.

 

"As we continue to consolidate our position as a market leader in the development and construction of student accommodation and make good progress with our build to rent developments, the business continues to demonstrate sustainable growth.  Given the encouraging start to the financial year, we believe our business model will continue to deliver strong returns to shareholders."



 

 

Notice of Results

The Group will be announcing its Interim Results on Tuesday, 22 May 2018.  An analyst briefing will be held at 09.30hrs at the offices of Buchanan, 107 Cheapside, London EC2V 6DN.

 

- Ends -

 

For further information:

Watkin Jones plc

 

Mark Watkin Jones, Chief Executive Officer

Tel: +44 (0) 1248 362 516

Phil Byrom, Chief Financial Officer

www.watkinjonesplc.com

 

 

Peel Hunt LLP (Nominated Adviser & Joint Corporate  Broker)

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7418 8900

Mike Bell / Justin Jones / Matthew Brooke-Hitching

www.peelhunt.com

 




Jefferies Hoare Govett (Joint Corporate Broker)

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7029 8000

Max Jones / Will Soutar

www.jefferies.com

 

Media enquiries:

Buchanan

 

Henry Harrison-Topham / Richard Oldworth

Jamie Hooper / Steph Watson

 

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7466 5000

[email protected]

www.buchanan.uk.com

 

Notes to Editors

 

Watkin Jones is a leading UK developer and constructor of multi occupancy property assets, with a focus on the student accommodation and build to rent sectors.  The Group has strong relationships with institutional investors, and a reputation for successful, on-time-delivery of high quality developments.  Since 1999, Watkin Jones has delivered more than 34,500 student beds across 107 sites.  In addition, Fresh Property Group, the Group's specialist accommodation management company, manages more than 16,000 student beds on behalf of its institutional clients.  Watkin Jones has also been responsible for over 50 residential developments, ranging from starter homes to executive housing and apartments.  The Group is now expanding its development and management operations into the build to rent sector.

 

The Group's competitive advantage lies in its experienced management team and business model, which enables it to offer an end-to-end solution for investors, delivered entirely in-house with minimal reliance on third parties, across the entire life cycle of an asset.

 

Watkin Jones was admitted to trading on AIM in March 2016 with the ticker WJG.L.  For additional information please visit: www.watkinjonesplc.com

 


This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange
 
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