Yorkshire property developer, S Harrison, has strengthened its cash reserves since the year end and is well placed to capitalise on the anticipated upturn in the property sector.
Preliminary Group trading figures for the year ended December 2020 show a trading profit of £2.5million on a turnover of £8million. Cash reserves to invest in new schemes stood at just under £14million.
Cash reserves were further boosted at the turn of the year by the sale of one of Harrison’s landmark Edinburgh sites. Having gained planning approval during 2020, in January Harrison sold the 394-bed student accommodation scheme, close to Murrayfield, to Watkins Jones for an undisclosed sum.
Managing director, Ann Scott, acknowledges that 2020 was a tough year for the sector as a whole and that there are many significant challenges ahead.
She said: “The pandemic has had a massive impact and even as we return to some sense of normality, the market will remain uncertain for some time. Being flexible and having the resources to move swiftly when opportunities arise will be key to success in the short to medium term. Our wide-ranging pipeline of development schemes coupled with our income generating property portfolio and our strong balance sheet positions us well.”
In Scotland, the Group currently has planning approval to create a 157-bed hotel on a former office site on Osborne Terrace close to Haymarket station and is exploring a range of options for its site at Ocean Point in Leith. Harrison is in negotiations to acquire additional sites with potential for student accommodation in both Edinburgh and Glasgow where the demand remains strong.
“In 2020 we rebranded one of our York-based student residences. Now called Abode, the 506-bed residence close to the city centre also benefited from a £1.5m refurbishment and enhancement programme and maintained a 97 per cent occupancy rate throughout the year. We are currently exploring options on an additional site in the city which would provide an excellent location for student accommodation,” said Ann.
The Group has strengthened its presence in the housing sector. Its private residential development in Whitby which came on stream in 2020 has already seen 70 per cent of the homes released on phase one reserved or exchanged.
Phase 2 will be released shortly. Also, on the Yorkshire east coast, Harrison is working closely with the local council to bring forward a high-quality development of 65 homes, a mix of supported housing and general needs apartments.
Ann added: “We already have strategic land holdings in Leeds and Manchester and are looking for additional opportunities across the Midlands, north of England and Scotland. Our breadth of experience across the residential, student, hotel, commercial and industrial sectors makes us an ideal partner for those looking to realise optimum value from their land assets.”
Full audited accounts for Harrison Group are expected to be published in May.