Empiric expands to attract older students as revenue leaps 27pc
EMPIRIC Student Property is planning to increase its accommodation provision for second and third year students as rental markets across the country remain squeezed.
Paul Hadaway, the chief executive, said the firm was keen to buy up blocks that could house students outside of the traditional first-year cohort which it has typically targeted.
“We definitely see our future as a greater offer to postgraduate, second and third years,” he said. In July, the business raised £110m of equity to buy four more buildings.
Mr Hadaway said that Empiric, which has 90 buildings in 30 towns and cities, was seeking to encourage existing tenants to move within its portfolio, even if they moved city while studying. Earlier this month, the company announced that its property operating arm, which is called Hello Student, had signed a deal with renowned interior design brand Conran Shop to fit out luxury rooms in certain locations. It has so far fitted out 18 rooms in Cardiff and Glasgow with the high-end designs.
Empiric’s results for the six months to June 30, which were released yesterday, showed that the value of its portfolio had jumped by 13.4pc to £817.9m as a result of the purchases, although net asset value per share, which property companies use to record value, was almost flat at around 105.8p. Revenues for the firm jumped 27.3pc to £24.5m.
The otherwise upbeat results were dented by some unforeseen costs which accounted for a 43pc rise in the admin charge, from £5.3m to £7.6m.
Some of this was associated with the development costs of Hello Student. Shares in the company slipped 4.6pc to 108.5p yesterday.
Mr Hadaway said he was relatively unconcerned by a potential drop-off in students from the European Union in the coming years.
“It would be wrong to say we’re not concerned at all,” he said. “But we’ve had a record number of 18-year-old school leavers apply and be accepted to universities.”
He added that a reduction in overall student numbers had been driven by fewer mature students, and that applications from non-EU countries were continuing to hold up.