Crown Estate mulls move to warehousing
RETAILERS could soon be shipping goods from warehouses owned by the Queen as the Crown Estate considers expanding its investment in industrial property to capitalise on booming demand from online sellers.
The company said it had not ruled out adding more warehousing to its portfolio as it seeks to cushion itself from the impact of high street turmoil.
Chief executive Alison Nimmo said the Crown Estate, which manages property and land owned by the Queen, had benefited from its prime shopping destinations last year but that it had not been immune from store closures. Around 40pc of the company’s portfolio is retail property, while the remainder covers offices, infrastructure and land including Windsor Great Park.
High street names including House of Fraser and New Look have announced plans to close shops in recent weeks, hitting landlords who have been faced with the prospect of empty stores. A number of landlords have expressed concern that the process used to reduce store portfolios, company voluntary arrangements, is being misused.
Paul Clark, chief investment officer for the Crown Estate, said while the company would not be taking legal action against any retailers using CVAs, it supported the position taken by the British Property Federation for a fairer system for property owners.
Ms Nimmo said that despite a “relatively tough year” operating in a “challenging and uncertain market” the company had still managed to hand back almost £330m to the Treasury in 2017, 4pc more than in the previous year. That brings the company’s contribution to the public purse to £2.7bn over the last decade.