TIDMESP

RNS Number : 3806A

Empiric Student Property PLC

02 February 2022

2 February 2022

Empiric Student Property plc

("Empiric" or the "Company" or, together with its subsidiaries, the "Group")

BUSINESS AND TRADING UPDATE

Empiric Student Property plc (ticker: ESP), the owner and operator of premium student accommodation across the UK, is pleased to provide a business and trading update.

Duncan Garrood, Chief Executive Officer of Empiric Student Property plc, said:

"We are pleased that our revenue occupancy for the academic year 2021/22 is towards the top end of our guidance at 84%, despite the academic year being clearly impacted by the pandemic. We are also encouraged by the start of our booking cycle for the forthcoming academic year 2022/23.

We continue to make good progress in actively managing our portfolio to recycle capital and drive returns for our shareholders. With our latest disposal of a portfolio of five assets for GBP26.5 million in line with the latest book value, we have now sold a total of GBP44.6 million of non-core assets, with ongoing discussions regarding further non-core property disposals. We are also pleased to be pushing ahead with our outstanding developments and that our planned refurbishment works are on track, all of which will further improve the quality of our portfolio.

The Board continues to target a dividend of at least 2.5 pence for the financial year 2022, all else remaining equal."

Academic years 2021/22 ("AY21/22") and 2022/23

We achieved a good performance at the start of AY21/22 and since our announcement on 5 November 2021, revenue occupancy across our portfolio has increased from 81% to 84% (AY20/21: 68%). This is at the upper end of our guidance range provided on 12 August 2021 of between 75% to 85% revenue occupancy for the AY21/22.

The Group currently has a greater proportion of UK domestic students in its properties compared to pre-COVID levels, resulting from our targeted marketing, and now representing 48% of bookings, the balance being 26% Chinese and 26% other international. This compares to our pre-pandemic breakdown of approximately one third each for UK, Chinese and other international.

We are encouraged by the start of our booking cycle for the forthcoming academic year 2022/23, and we expect strong demand from both domestic and international students, supported by the ongoing lifting of restrictions and opening up of international travel .

Actively managing our portfolio

We continue to make good progress on actively managing our portfolio to recycle capital and drive returns for our shareholders.

We have completed the disposal of a portfolio of five non-core assets in Leicester, Durham and Exeter for GBP26.5 million, which is in line with the latest book value as at 31 December 2021. With this disposal, the total value of assets we have sold is GBP44.6 million, and discussions regarding further non-core property disposals are ongoing.

We are on target with our development in Bristol (153 beds) and have commenced a development in Edinburgh (60 beds), which will both complete in time for the start of the academic year 2022/23.

Dividends

We continue to expect to re-instate regular dividend payments that will be fully covered and progressive in nature, and paid quarterly, commencing in Q1 2022. The Board continues to target a dividend of at least 2.5 pence for the financial year 2022, all else remaining equal.

ESG

We are committed to creating and operating a responsible and sustainable business, which has a positive impact on all of our stakeholders. During 2020, we established a Board level ESG Committee tasked with providing a roadmap to deliver a significant step change in our approach to ESG. We will be setting out our ESG strategy in our Annual Report in March 2022.

Full year results

We will report our full year results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2021 on Thursday, 3 March 2022. We will hold a Company presentation for investors and analysts at 8:30am (GMT) on the day, with further details to be announced in due course.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY, PLEASE CONTACT:

 
 Empiric Student Property plc                 (via Maitland/AMO below) 
 Duncan Garrood (Chief Executive Officer) 
 Lynne Fennah (Chief Financial & Operating 
  Officer) 
 
 Jefferies International Limited              020 7029 8000 
 Stuart Klein 
 Tom Yeadon 
 
 RBC Europe Limited (trading as RBC 
  Capital Markets)                            020 7653 4000 
 Charlie Foster 
  Marcus Jackson 
 
                                              07747 113 930 / 020 7379 
 Maitland/AMO (Communications Adviser)         5151 
 James Benjamin                               empiric-maitland@maitland.co.uk 
  Alistair de Kare-Silver 
 
 

The Company's LEI is 213800FPF38IBPRFPU87.

Further information on Empiric can be found on the Company's website at www.empiric.co.uk .

Notes:

Empiric Student Property plc is a leading provider and operator of modern, predominantly direct-let, premium student accommodation located in high-demand university towns and cities across the UK. Investing in both operating and development assets, Empiric is a fully integrated operational student property business focused on premium studio-led accommodation managed through its Hello Student(R) operating platform, that is attractive to affluent growing student segments.

The Company, an internally managed real estate investment trust ("REIT") incorporated in England and Wales, listed on the premium listing segment of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority and was admitted to trading on the main market for listed securities of the London Stock Exchange in June 2014.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 02, 2022 01:59 ET (06:59 GMT)

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