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Business hub London creates property boom - KIngs Cross


Argent Kings Cross won the 2013 City A.M. Property Firm of the Year for its “game-changing” work at the transport hub

As London prices continue to rise, defying fears that the bubble is about to burst, property companies have seen a period of huge growth.

Our shortlist, which was very tough to choose, includes companies such as the Berkeley Group and Workspace, which have seen their profits soar in the past year.

Also among the cream of the crop is the Battersea Power Station Development Company which is at the centre of the £8bn regeneration of the iconic south London riverside site.

And there’s Zoopla, which has taken an innovative online and app approach to selling and renting property and has had a successful launch on the London market. With imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it’s probably no surprise that Zoopla’s rivals have set up websites of their own.

HOUSE builder Berkeley’s pre-tax profits rocketed in the year to the end of April, soaring by 40 per cent as the housing market rapidly picked up strength. Profit after tax rose by £83.2m, a boost of 39.7 per cent on the year before, bringing the total for the year to £292.9m, and earnings per share increased from £1.60 to £2.22. Tony Pidgley (above), the charismatic founder and boss of Berkeley Group, says that this year the “market has reverted to normal transaction levels from the high point in 2013, providing a stable operating environment. Demand for the right product with good design in the best locations has remained resilient.”

The owners of Battersea Power Station are embarking on a worldwide tour to find hundreds of retailers, restaurants and office tenants for the next phase of its development of the iconic south London riverbank property. Rob Tincknell (below), the developer behind the site’s £8bn regeneration, says there will be 254 flats perched at the top of the power station, their views as lofty as their prices, which range from £800,000 studios to £4m four-bedroom flats, plus the penthouses for as yet unnamed prices. And at an inauguration party in May, Sir Elton John rocked the site.

Canary Wharf Group has had a successful year, benefitting from the rebound in the city office market and companies searching for space again. The group – led by Sir George Iacobescu (above) – signed a major deal with EY that will see the accountancy giant move 4,000 staff to 25 Churchill Place, the last building to be built as part of the orig­inal masterplan. The secretary of state also approved Canary Wharf Group’s Shell Centre development and the company’s Wood Wharf project, which will see it move into residential, was also given the go ahead. It has also secured suc­ces­sful lettings at its Walkie Talkie skyscraper joint venture with Land Securities.

Small business landlord Workspace smashed its own forecasts this year, after reporting a 43 per cent jump in net asset value thanks to rising rents and a jump in the value of its properties. The real estate investment trust (Reit), which provides trendy office space for small- to medium-sized creative businesses such as Moonpig, said its net asset value rose to £4.96m in the year to 31 March compared with £3.48m last year. Chief executive Jamie Hopkins (below) said: “London is changing fast. New areas are emerging and establishing, occupiers are generally more fleet of foot and modern communication channels have revolutionised the way businesses operate.”

Zoopla – the online property portal successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange, despite the choppy IPO market, and has seen shares rise above its initial offer price. The group has benefited from a resurgent property market and investors keen to snap up new online businesses. Led by founder and chief executive Alex Chesterman (above), it has seen a huge increase in use of apps, which accounts for over half of Zoopla’s traffic, up 86 per cent in the past year And it is relatively well prot­ected from the potential impact of a new rival, and indeed from any dip in the housing market as more than 3,000 of its members are housing developers or foreign agents.

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