The chief executive of regeneration group Harworth has revealed he will step down at the end of this year after 10 years in the role.
Owen Michaelson took over the management of UK Coal’s real estate activities when these were restructured as Harworth Estates in 2010, and established the independent business specialising in the regeneration and development of brownfield land.
When the company took over the Harworth Estates business and relisted on the London Stock Exchange in 2015, he became chief executive.
Since then, under his leadership, Harworth has developed into a leading land and property regeneration company in the UK, now owning and managing a portfolio of around 18,000 acres of land on around 100 sites in the north of England and the Midlands with planning consents for around 10,000 residential plots and 9m sq ft of commercial space.
Michaelson said: “It has been a great privilege to work with such a strong and dedicated team at Harworth and the success we have achieved is testament to the focus and commitment of those individual team members. When I started out on this journey, I always believed that the role of Master Developer could be delivered at scale successfully by the private sector. We have proven the business model and it is now time for a new leader to take the business forward to the next stage in its journey. It is only possible to succeed in the regeneration sector if you respect and work closely with all local stakeholders and I would like to thank all of our partners for the trust they have put in the Harworth team.”
Alongside Michaelson’s announcement the group revealed its annual results which showed a drop in net asset value from 12.6p per share to 7.2p.
Operating profit was also down, from £33m in 2018 to £24.3m, and basic earnings per share dipped from 10.6p to 7.9p. Despite the falling figure the group has raise the dividend from 0.9p to 1p.
On the results Michaelson, said: “We have delivered a total return of 7.8% in 2019, demonstrating the ability of our team to create value growth from the active asset management of our underlying land and property portfolio alongside profits from rental income and sales. This includes the results from the regeneration of sites through the sale of engineered land to housebuilders and commercial occupiers, and the continued expansion and resilience of our income portfolio.
“Notwithstanding this progress, the returns from large-scale sites like ours are not linear and this has been seen in the lower total return in 2019, primarily as a result of the planning headwinds at a local authority level that we reported through our interim results. Also as previously indicated, whilst we continue to target long-term market-leading returns, our current trading plans suggest that our historic site portfolio will deliver lower returns in the near term whilst our new sites move through the development cycle, exacerbated by the continued local political headwinds which will take some time to unwind.”