WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TOWN CENTRE SPECIALISTS AND THE CONTINUED VITALITY OF CITIES IS FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR SUCCESS.
Our strategy is to focus on city centres where our core development, asset management and investment skills in the office, residential, retail and leisure sectors can be best exploited. London remains the heart of our business but other large cities such as Liverpool, Edinburgh and Dublin will continue to be of strategic importance. We have always been town centre specialists and the continued vitality of cities is fundamental to our success.
Property and other asset based businesses have been challenged by the 'e' world and changing patterns of consumer behaviour. New technology offers opportunities to create new services for our customers and hence commercial advantage for them and for ourselves. We are developing the skills needed to help us meet the new business demands and we have created a new post of Head of e-business.
We sold our interest in Wates City of London Properties plc during 2000, realising a profit of over £30m. We made this investment (in 1998/9) because of a combination of a heavily discounted share price and outstanding prospects for the City market. We reviewed all options for this investment but in the end we accepted an undiscounted price for the shares which, we concluded, offered the highest possible risk-adjusted return over the next few years. We also sold our 50% interest in Forty Grosvenor Place to the GMetro fund (in which Grosvenor has a 31.15% interest).
With Henderson Global Investors we were appointed as Liverpool City Council's partner for the 17 hectare Paradise Street Development. This is one of the largest mixed use urban regeneration projects in Europe and is being undertaken in close harmony with the community. At Preston, we have been working with the Borough Council to determine a development plan for a significant part of the town centre. At Central Park, Rugby, we achieved the largest ever distribution letting in the UK, of 62,360 m2 to Gap Inc. With Gap, our contractors Try-Galliford and our development partners Wilson Bowden, we have embarked upon an ambitious construction programme which depends upon close co-operation to succeed. We have entered into a joint venture with the University of Edinburgh for a 40 hectare research park on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
We also started a new office development of 7,807 m2 in Moorgate, in the City of London with CapitaLand; and in the West End 4,700 m2 of offices and 175 m2 of retail space at Keysign House in Oxford Street, W1 with Stow Securities.
We have strengthened our relationships with a number of local authorities - such as Basingstoke, Westminster and the City of London - with whom we share mutual interest and a belief in managing the urban environment to the benefit of local communities.
The Britain and Ireland Operating Company Board has been strengthened by the non-executive appointments of Andrew Baum, Professor of Land Management at the University of Reading and Richard Clare, Chairman of E C Harris.
The new structure has resulted in a greater sense of involvement for individuals and a new release of energy. The results in 2000 mean that the UK is the highest performing part of the Group. The office and residential portfolios performed well but shopping centres were held back by the difficulties being experienced by many retailers. The end-of-year value of our investment portfolio was over £1.3bn, while the completion value of the committed development programme we manage on behalf of ourselves and our partners is £1bn.
Forty Grosvenor Place, an 18,581 m2 office building let to Enron Europe.
Liffey Valley, Dublin where a new 17,193 m2 office campus is underway to complement the existing 27,765 m2 shopping centre.
Oxford Street, London, where Grosvenor is working closely with other owners and investors to enhance retail competitiveness.
South Gyle Park, Edinburgh, where we have completed the final phase of our development, a building of 3,253 m2, with partners Hermes.
Ebury Mews, Belgravia. A development of 6 mews houses which all sold ahead of completion.