RNS Number : 2191S

Watkin Jones plc

05 November 2019

5 November 2019

Watkin Jones plc

('Watkin Jones' or the 'Group')

Strong FY19 trading anticipated to be in-line with expectations

Capital Markets Day

Watkin Jones plc (AIM:WJG), the UK's leading developer and manager of residential for rent, with a focus on the student accommodation and Build to Rent sectors, is pleased to provide a trading update for the year ended 30 September 2019 (the 'Period' or 'FY19').

The Group's trading remained strong through the final quarter of the year. Consequently, the Board expects to report revenues and earnings for FY19 in line with its expectations, together with a good cash performance in the Period.

All of the Group's business segments performed well and delivered on their operational objectives for the year. The six Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) developments (2,723 beds) scheduled for delivery in the year were successfully completed, whilst good progress was also made in the development of the forward sold PBSA and Build to Rent (BtR) assets scheduled for delivery in FY20 and FY21. A robust performance was also achieved by the Fresh Property Group and Residential businesses.

Development pipeline

Further progress was made in growing the pipeline of sites for future development and in achieving forward sales of assets to the Group's high-quality institutional client base, reflecting the strength of demand for well-located assets in the Group's target cities and the continued recognition of Watkin Jones as a preferred development partner.

As set out in the Development Transaction Update on 3 October 2019, the Group has now forward sold all seven of its PBSA developments (2,609 beds) scheduled for delivery in FY20 and has forward sold 1,928 beds across four schemes for delivery in FY21, with a further 448 beds currently in legals for sale. The Group's current pipeline of forward sold and secured PBSA development sites totals circa 6,670 beds across 17 sites, for delivery over the period FY20 to FY24, of which 13 sites (5,447 beds) have planning.

Following the recently announced sales of the Group's developments in Sutton, Bournemouth and Sheffield, the forward sold and secured BtR pipeline now comprises approximately 1,750 apartments across eight sites for delivery over the period FY20 to FY23, of which 1,012 apartments across five sites have been forward sold and a further site for 184 apartments has planning.

The Group has a number of other PBSA and BtR opportunities in advanced stages of negotiation, which if satisfactorily concluded would add a further circa 2,025 student beds and 1,150 BtR apartments to the pipeline for delivery over the period FY21 to FY23.

 Delivery pipeline                           PBSA                            BtR 
                                             Beds                        Apartments 
                               -------------------------------  ---------------------------- 
                                 FY20    FY21    FY22   FY23/    FY20   FY21   FY22   FY23/ 
                                                         FY24*                         FY24* 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 Forward sold                   2,609   1,928       -        -    159    782     71        - 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 In legals for sale                 -     448       -        -      -      -      -        - 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 Secured with planning              -     462       -        -      -      -    184        - 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 Secured subject to planning        -       -   1,032      191      -      -    213      336 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 Advanced negotiation 
  to acquire                        -     415   1,610        -      -      -    350      800 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 
 Total                          2,609   3,253   2,642      191    159    782    818    1,136 
                               ------  ------  ------  -------  -----  -----  -----  ------- 

* FY23/24 relates to a two-year period


The Board is encouraged by the increasing level of investor demand that is being demonstrated for BtR assets. This provides confidence that there is a broad range of potential institutional investors with whom the Group can engage in order to replicate in BtR the low risk forward sale model that has been so successful for PBSA.

The pipeline of forward sold and secured development sites ensures that the Group continues to maintain good visibility over future revenues and earnings, whilst the fundamentals supporting the PBSA and BtR markets remain strong. The Board remains confident in the outlook for the Group and consider that it is well positioned to capitalise further on the opportunities open to it.

Capital Markets Day

At the Capital Markets Day to be held later today at Duncan House in Stratford, Chief Executive Officer, Richard Simpson will be joined by a number of the senior management team in providing an update on the Group's growth strategy.

The presentations will provide information on the opportunity which the Group has to increase the delivery rate across its two core markets to 3,500 PBSA beds and 1,000 BtR apartments per annum over the next five years, underpinned by long term, growing demand from tenants and institutional investors, as well as providing further insight into Watkin Jones' expertise and working capital light business model. No further price-sensitive information will be given in these presentations.

The presentations are being recorded and the slides, together with the recording, will be made available via the Group's investor relations website later today:


Richard Simpson, Chief Executive Officer of Watkin Jones, said: "We are pleased by the progress achieved by the Group in the last twelve months. The robust PBSA activity in the period, coupled in particular with the increasing momentum in BtR, firmly positions Watkin Jones as the UK's leading developer and manager of residential for rent."

Notice of Final Results

The Group will be announcing its Final Results on Tuesday, 14 January 2020. 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                  Tel: +44 (0) 1248 362 516 
Phil Byrom, Chief Financial Officer                  www.watkinjonesplc.com 
Peel Hunt LLP (Nominated Adviser & Joint Corporate     Tel: +44 (0) 20 7418 
 Broker)                                                               8900 
Mike Bell / Ed Allsopp                                     www.peelhunt.com 
Jefferies Hoare Govett (Joint Corporate Broker)        Tel: +44 (0) 20 7029 
Max Jones / Will Soutar                                   www.jefferies.com 

Media enquiries:

Henry Harrison-Topham / Richard Oldworth   Tel: +44 (0) 20 7466 5000 
 Jamie Hooper / Steph Watson 
watkinjones@buchanan.uk.com                      www.buchanan.uk.com 

Notes to Editors

Watkin Jones is the UK's leading developer and manager of residential for rent, 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 41,000 student beds across 123 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 nearly 18,000 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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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 05, 2019 02:00 ET (07:00 GMT)

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