Student housing firm economic sentiment is improving

Student housing and BTR specialist Watkin Jones returned to the black in the first half with the firm adding that the development picture is slowly improving after being in the doldrums since the mini-Budget in September 2022.

The firm posted a pre-tax profit of £2.1m in the six months to March from an £800,000 loss last time on turnover up 14% to £175m.

The firm has restructured in the past year with new chief executive Alex Pease taking on the role permanently last November. It has also been hit with remedial costs which sent the firm to a £42.5m pre-tax loss in the year to September 2023 from an £18.4m profit last time.


Watkin Jones posted a £2.1m profit in the first half

But Pease firm said a recovery was now underway and added: “There has been gradual improvement in sentiment in the property investment market, which we expect to support a continued recovery in forward fund transaction demand.”

The firm warned, however, that “a slower than expected reduction in interest rates has potential to impact pace of recovery”.

Watkin Jones said it would not pay an interim dividend as it was “prioritising the maintenance of financial flexibility during this period of market disruption”.

The firm’s total pipeline of work was £1.4bn with the firm submitting planning for 3,000 student bedrooms in the first half across four schemes.

Watkisn Jones said its net cash position during the period was £44.3m, down from £45m last time.