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Matthew Weiner: Doing well by doing good

27.04.18

When U+I was launched in November 2015, we wanted to create a company that was not just different, but that made a difference -  for our staff, our partners, our shareholders but, most of all, for those in the places we create. We didn’t want to just make great places or make the numbers; we wanted to make history.

Our full-year results show that we’re delivering on that ambition, generating returns for our investors at the same time as doing the best thing for communities across London, Manchester and Dublin. That has helped us deliver record trading and development gains of £68.3 million, a 12.2% total return for the year and a 106% increase in our total dividends delivering 17.9 pence per share driven by our strong cash flows.

But these results are about more than the numbers. They also tell the story of how we are transforming sites – and the communities they serve – unlocking overlooked spaces to create thriving places in our cities.

FY2017 was a year in which we made great progress, continuing to consolidate our position in the market. Building on our reputation for regeneration, we won a string of landmark deals that were transformative for the company. Working within one of our specialist areas – Public Private Partnership – we have built a pipeline of over £7bn that will transform derelict areas of London, Manchester and Dublin into new communities. In turn, they will enable us to deliver market-leading returns for our shareholders. In partnership with public sector bodies, the benefits are real and tangible and these projects will drive positive change for their neighbourhoods.

In FY2018, we have continued to build on these successes and deliver our development pipeline. From London to Manchester to Dublin, we’re creating new and unique spaces for businesses, start-ups and communities to flourish. We’ve brought a high-end office space to Hayes which embraces the architecture and heritage of the Old Vinyl Factory site. We’ve secured planning and started construction on two landmark projects in Brighton. We’ve been named as a partner to develop TfL’s Landmark Court site in Southwark. And we’ve opened our Manchester office, announcing our ambitions for the city.

All the while, we remain true to our core values, building a team and a culture that champions imagination, intelligence and audacity. We have long been advocates of meanwhile use as a vital tool for public engagement. We are now pushing this concept further to bring life to derelict sites from the moment we acquire them and deliver long-term social and economic value for a site and the surrounding area. We call it worthwhile use. It helps us form a relationship with the community, often allowing us to incubate ideas that end up in the final masterplan of our projects.

We have done this at our sites across the country, whether that is a London Fire Brigade pop-up museum, housing the Migration Museum and an education-focussed social enterprise at 8 Albert Embankment, or FIELD at Preston Barracks in Brighton, which was home to a group of entrepreneurs and makers for two years. Through projects like these, we’re generating value at our sites and forging long-term relationships with communities before the construction has even begun.

This has been a successful year for U+I, but it is just the beginning. Our pipeline of projects shows our ambition for the future. Our true success will be measured not just by the numbers, but also by the places we create. I look forward to seeing what more our partnership can go on to achieve together.

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