Har­worth Group aim­ing to tap into the po­ten­tial of North­ern Pow­er­house

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - ROS SNOW­DON CITY EDITOR ■ Email: ros. snow­don@ ypn. co. uk ■ Twit­ter: @RosSnow­donYPN

HAR­WORTH GROUP, the com­pany that re­gen­er­ates for­mer coal­field sites, re­ported a strong per­for­mance in its first nine months as a stand­alone busi­ness and said it is keen to tap into op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated by the North­ern Pow­er­house.

The Rother­ham- based firm said its lo­ca­tions in the for­mer min­ing ar­eas of the North pro­vide an ob­vi­ous syn­ergy with the Govern­ment’s plans for a North­ern Pow­er­house.

Har­worth’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Owen Michael­son said: “The North­ern Pow­er­house is a good plat­form to re­fo­cus the ad­van­tages of the North.

“If you look at the cor­ri­dor be­tween Liverpool and Hull, you’ve got a pop­u­la­tion not far short of Lon­don. Let’s co- or­di­nate in­vest­ment in pri­mary in­fra­struc­ture.”

Har­worth re­ported a profit of £ 78m in 2015, which in­cluded a £ 44m gain from the ac­qui­si­tion of the re­main­ing 75 per cent of Har­worth Es­tates Prop­erty Group. This was up from £ 3.5m in 2014.

Har­worth was re- listed on the Lon­don Stock Ex­change last March, chang­ing its name from Coal­field Re­sources fol­low­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of the 75 per cent stake.

Its coal min­ing roots make Har­worth one of the largest landown­ers in the coun­try.

“We are bring­ing com­mu­ni­ties back to life, com­mu­ni­ties that could have been blighted by the end of the coal mines,” said Mr Michael­son.

One of the group’s re­de­vel­op­ments is The Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Park in Rother­ham on the site of the for­mer Or­g­reave Col­liery, the scene of one of the most bit­ter con­fronta­tions of the 1984 min­ers’ strike.

“Typ­i­cally, a coal mine em­ploys 700 peo­ple. On The Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Park in Rother­ham we’ve al­ready got 1,000 peo­ple. We are mak­ing sure we main­tain the vi­brancy of the com­mu­nity,” said Mr Michael­son.

The group said it is well po­si­tioned for fur­ther growth.

“With the growth mo­men­tum al­ready es­tab­lished in the busi­ness, we an­tic­i­pate a larger num­ber of sales, in­creased de­vel­op­ment spend and fur­ther ac­qui­si­tions in 2016,” said Mr Michael­son.

“We have en­tered the new year with con­fi­dence, which is demon­strated by the pro­posed ini­ti­a­tion of our div­i­dend pol­icy.”

Har­worth is propos­ing a fi­nal div­i­dend of 0.051p per share.

An­a­lyst James Tet­ley at N+ 1 Singer said: “Har­worth has re­leased a con­fi­dent set of 2015 pre­lims.

“The fi­nan­cial per­for­mance is ahead of our ex­pec­ta­tions and the mo­men­tum with which the group ended 2015 looks to have con­tin­ued into the new year.

“Man­age­ment has an ex­cel­lent track record of un­lock­ing value from the port­fo­lio and am­bi­tions to in­vest in new ( for­mer in­dus­trial) sites at a rate of £ 20m per an­num over the medium term. A stated tar­get of dou­ble digit post­tax re­turns on net as­sets looks highly achiev­able and un­der­pins our ‘ buy’ rec­om­men­da­tion.”

Har­worth sells about half of its land to house­builders and the other half to com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ers.

It deals with Tay­lor Wim­pey, Bar­ratt and MJ Glee­son on the hous­ing side and has sold plots to Rolls- Royce, Boe­ing, Aldi and Nis­san on the com­mer­cial side.

An­a­lyst Ali­son Wat­son at In­vestec said: “Th­ese are good num­bers. Man­age­ment an­nounced a re­newed port­fo­lio fo­cus to­wards brown­field sites.”

Let’s co­or­di­nate in­vest­ment in pri­mary in­fra­struc­ture. Owen Michael­son, Har­worth chief ex­ec­u­tive

CEN­TRE OF EX­CEL­LENCE: The Ad­vanced Man­u­fac­tur­ing Park in Rother­ham is one of Har­worth Group’s sig­na­ture re­de­vel­op­ments.

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