City property firm Real Estate Investors has revealed a four-fold rise in profits.
The company has also announced its intention to convert to a REIT – Real Estate Investment Trust – which could be as early as 2015.
Profit before tax in 2013 was up to £5 million from £1 million in 2012, with revenue up by eight per cent from £6.1 million to £6.6 million.
During the year REI sold £7 million worth of property and acquired property for £2.3 million.
Chief executive Paul Bassi said: “We are absolutely committed to investing in the Central England regions, with a focus on the West Midlands, as this is a marketplace and environment in which the management has a longstanding association and network.
“This is why we are able to build a business that will generate profits, capital growth and dividends for our shareholders.”
REI’s final results also reveal that the company now has 650,000 sq ft across 46 buildings with 150 tenants.
The business is now a major Birmingham city centre landlord, with 143,408 sq ft across nine buildings accounting for 37.2 per cent of the portfolio by value.
Other assets across the Midlands can be found in Edgbaston,, Leicester, Derby, Bromsgrove, West Bromwich, Walsall, Kings Heath, Coventry and Rugeley.
The total portfolio valuation is now £75.2 million after sales in Derby, Edgbaston, Crawley and Wakefield totalling £7 million and the acquisition of 37a Waterloo Street in Birmingham city centre for £1.8 million and Tudor House, Bridge Street in Walsall for £500,000.
Mr Bassi added: “The regional economy in the West Midlands has strengthened and re-established itself as a major economic centre.
“This improved sentiment towards the region, which was more visible in the fourth quarter of 2013 and particularly in the property sector, has revealed the early signs of improving investor appetite and economic activity.
“We believe property values and occupancy will see further positive improvement in 2014 and 2015.
“The real forward opportunity is to capitalise on our market reputation and existing resource to include cash, bank facilities and access to equity and acquire the distressed stock that the financial institutions have mothballed throughout the recession.
“REI is able to access these opportunities and the successful acquisition will provide us with opportunities to secure capital growth and continue with the Board’s intention to pay a progressive dividend,” he said.
Recent acquisitions have included properties at Waterloo Street/Bennetts Hill in Birmingham and Bridge Street, Walsall. The company’s property portfolio in Birmingham has seen 180,000 sq ft acquired during the economic downturn. Further acquisitions are anticipated during 2014.
REI completed significant lettings to the Royal College of Surgeons, Shaw Trust and Sandwell Inspired Partnership Services. The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has taken a ten year lease for the fifth floor at 85-89 Colmore Row, at a rental of £74,320 per annum.
Even bad news turned into good for REI during the year when the firm was hit by the collapse of Challinors Solicitors.
Mr Bassi said: “Demand for good town centre stock was demonstrated when Challinors Solicitors went into administration and we immediately re-let floor space to Sandwell Inspired Partnership Services Ltd, a ‘not for profit co-operative’ formed by the local councils and schools.”
Sandwell Inspired Partnership Services took just under 25,000 sq ft on a ten year lease at Guardian House in West Bromwich, representing one of the largest deals in West Bromwich for a number of years, at an annual rental of £251,792.
Mr Bassi concluded: “Over the next few years as our portfolio matures, and our asset management programme completes, we will dispose of some of our assets, into an environment in which the banks are lending, and high net worth individuals, property companies and pension funds join the existing funds, public companies, insurance companies and overseas buyers from Singapore and China who are buying in our region to secure quality returns and capital growth.”