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Watkin Jones plc (WJG)

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Thursday 04 April, 2019

Watkin Jones plc

Pre-Close Trading Statement

RNS Number : 0648V
Watkin Jones plc
04 April 2019
 

For immediate release

4 April 2019

 

 

 

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 residential 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 2019 (the 'period').

 

The Board reports that the Group continues to deliver a good trading performance, in line with its expectations.

 

Student Accommodation

The Group added to its forward sold development pipeline, reflecting continued strong demand from institutional investors. Notable highlights include the previously announced forward sale of a 599 bed student accommodation development in Wembley to the global investor DWS, which is scheduled for delivery ahead of the 2021/22 academic year. The Wembley scheme represents DWS' first student accommodation acquisition in the UK, reflecting confidence in both Watkin Jones and the UK student accommodation market.

 

The Group has also exchanged contracts with Brookfield's student accommodation business, Student Roost, for the development of a 245 bed scheme in Swansea, which is scheduled for completion ahead of the 2020/21 academic year. This represents the third phase in the development of a total of 960 student accommodation beds at the Swansea site, following the success of the first two phases already owned by Student Roost.

 

Watkin Jones currently has a secured development pipeline in excess of 7,500 beds across 17 sites, which are scheduled for delivery over the period FY19 to FY21.  Of these, 11 sites (5,334 beds) have been forward sold. All of the six schemes (2,723 beds) under construction for delivery in FY19, ahead of the 2019/20 academic year, are progressing in line with expectations.

 

Build to Rent

Investor interest in the burgeoning build to rent market continues to gain momentum and the Group is positioning itself to be a leading developer and manager in this sector, leveraging its experience in purpose built student accommodation.  

 

The Group added significantly to its build to rent development pipeline in the period through the acquisition of a prime site for 336 apartments in Woking and successfully obtained the final planning consent for 166 apartments on its site in Sutton.  Watkin Jones is now in control of a high quality, geographically diverse build to rent development pipeline, including three sites with planning (415 apartments) and three sites (circa 800 apartments) for which planning is being progressed.

 

In addition to its own pipeline of sites, the Group is progressing well with the previously announced development of 315 apartments in Reading for M&G Real Estate and has commenced development of the 300-apartment scheme in Wembley for Singaporean investors.

Accommodation Management

Fresh Property Group ('FPG'), the Group's specialist accommodation management business, continues to perform well, with 15,421 units under management across 56 schemes at the start of FY19.  By FY22, FPG is currently appointed to manage 21,018 units across 73 schemes.   

 

Residential

The Group's residential business has seen a robust level of sales activity in the first half of the year, reflecting the relative strength of its primary North West market.

 

Richard Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of Watkin Jones, said: "The Group's continued good trading performance underlines the strength of the Watkin Jones business model, even during times of broader uncertainty. Leveraging our development and property management expertise into the attractive purpose built student accommodation and build to rent sectors, which are well supported by institutional investor demand, continues to deliver solid returns for the Group and its shareholders.  We are making good progress in the financial year and remain confident in the Group's medium term prospects."

 

Notice of Results

The Group will be announcing its Half Year Results on Tuesday, 21 May 2019.  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

 

Richard Simpson, 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

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 plc

Watkin Jones is a leading UK developer and constructor of multi-occupancy residential property assets, with a focus on the student accommodation and build to rent sectors.  The Group has strong relationships with institutional investors, and a good reputation for successful, on-time-delivery of high quality developments. Since 1999, Watkin Jones has delivered 38,000 student beds across 117 sites, making it a key player and leader in the UK purpose built student accommodation market. In addition, the Fresh Property Group, the Group's specialist accommodation management company, manages over 15,000 student beds and build to rent apartments on behalf of its institutional clients.  Watkin Jones has also been responsible for over 80 residential developments, ranging from starter homes to executive housing and apartments. The Group is now expanding its 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

 


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