TIDMUTG

RNS Number : 7046H

Unite Group PLC (The)

08 April 2022

PRESS RELEASE

8 April 2022

THE UNITE GROUP PLC

('Unite Students', 'Unite', the 'Group', or the 'Company')

TRADING UPDATE AND Q1 FUND VALUATIONS

Unite Students, the UK's leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, today announces an update on current trading and quarterly property valuations for the Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund ('USAF') and the London Student Accommodation Joint Venture ('LSAV') as at 31 March 2022 .

Current trading

2022/23 reservations

We have seen strong progress in sales since our preliminary results, materially closing the gap to our record pre-pandemic reservations level. Across the Group's entire property portfolio, 77% of rooms are now sold for the 2022/23 academic year (2021/22:69%, 2020/21:79%). We expect strong student demand for 2022/23 from both domestic and international students with UCAS applications up 7% compared to pre-pandemic levels and reduced disruption from travel restrictions and grade inflation.

This is supportive of our guidance of 97% occupancy for the 2022/23 academic year and further increases our confidence in achieving rental growth of 3.0-3.5%.

Development pipeline update

We recently received planning approval for our 595-bed Temple Quarter development in Bristol. We intend to acquire the site in time for delivery in the 2024/25 academic year. The completed development will be fully let on a 15-year nominations agreement to the University of Bristol, further strengthening our relationship with the university.

In early March, our planning application for our development in Paddington, London was rejected by Westminster City Council. We are currently reviewing our options for the best route to securing planning consent for the site, however this delay now means that we will no longer deliver the scheme for the 2024/25 academic year.

We continue to see inflationary pressure on build costs for our development pipeline, which typically account for 50-70% of our total development costs. This reflects ongoing supply chain disruption created by the pandemic as well as rising energy and materials prices, which have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

Our 2022 and 2023 schemes are secured under fixed price build contracts and remain in line with budget and on track for their scheduled delivery dates. However, we are seeing cost increases for schemes yet to be procured for delivery in 2024 and 2025. As a result, we now expect the yield on cost for our 2024 and 2025 schemes to be reduced by up to 20 bps, compared to our initial assumptions (previously 10-20bps). These schemes remain attractive and we will seek to mitigate the impact of increasing build costs through design efficiency and increased rental levels where possible.

Quarterly fund valuations

At 31 March 2022, USAF's property portfolio was independently valued at GBP2,865 million, a 1.7% increase on a like-for-like basis during the quarter. The valuation increase in USAF is driven by rental growth of 0.7% and a 6 basis point reduction in property yields. The portfolio comprises 28,929 beds in 71 properties across 19 university towns and cities in the UK.

LSAV's investment portfolio was independently valued at GBP1,868 million, a 2.7% increase on a like-for-like basis during the quarter. The valuation increase in LSAV is driven by rental growth of 1.1% and a 7 basis point reduction in property yields. LSAV's investment portfolio comprises 9,716 beds across 14 properties in London and Aston Student Village in Birmingham.

The USAF and LSAV portfolios are now valued at weighted average yields of 5.1% and 4.0% respectively.

Joe Lister, Unite Students Chief Financial Officer, commented :

"We continue to make good progress with bookings for the 2022/23 academic year with 77% of rooms already sold, demonstrating the strength of student demand and our success in increasing the retention of existing customers. This supports our guidance for a return to 97% occupancy and increases our confidence in delivering 3.0-3.5% rental growth for the 2022/23 academic year. In the current environment, headwinds from build cost inflation are impacting our medium-term development pipeline, but we will seek to mitigate these effects where possible."

ENDS

For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Joe Lister / Michael Burt Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office Tel: +44 117 450 6300

Powerscourt

Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop Tel: +44 20 7250 1446

About Unite Students

Unite Students is the UK's largest owner, manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation, serving the country's world-leading Higher Education sector. We provide homes to 74,000 students across 172 properties in 25 leading university towns and cities. We currently partner with over 60 universities across the UK.

Our people are driven by a common purpose: to provide a 'Home for Success' for the students who live with us. Unite's accommodation is safe and secure, high quality and affordable. Students live predominantly in ensuite study bedrooms, with rents covering all bills, insurance, 24-hour security and high-speed Wi-Fi. We also achieved a five-star British Safety Council rating in our last audit.

We are committed to raising standards in the student accommodation sector for our customers, investors and employees. This is why our new Sustainability Strategy, launched in 2021, includes a commitment to become net zero carbon across our operations and developments by 2030.

Founded in 1991 in Bristol, Unite Group is an award-winning Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the London Stock Exchange and a member of the FTSE 250 Index. Unite is invested in and operates two specialist funds and joint ventures with institutional investment partners: the GBP3 billion Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) and the GBP2 billion London Student Accommodation Vehicle (LSAV).

For more information, visit:

Unite's corporate website www.unite-group.com

The student site www.unitestudents.com

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END

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