In this extract from the 2019 Annual Report, Berkeley Group Chairman Tony Pidgley CBE looks back on the year and its defining achievements.
"This has been another year of solid performance for Berkeley, delivering financial results ahead of expectations while unlocking an increasingly valuable mix of social, economic and environmental benefits for the communities in which we work.
Our unique operating model, which recognises the cyclical nature of residential property development, continues to set us apart. We focus on large, complex and capital intensive regeneration opportunities in London, Birmingham and the South East of England, including a high proportion of former utility works and major industrial sites, which few other developers have the financial strength or development expertise to take on.
These long-term regeneration programmes require extensive remediation and enabling infrastructure works before they can be reconnected with the communities around them. Successfully reviving such vast and difficult sites presents a mix of technical, design and social challenges which are beyond the traditional role and scope of a developer.
Our approach is holistic, long-term and highly collaborative. We focus on the long-term strength and wellbeing of the local community and build strong local partnerships that maximise social value. This people-centred culture is what defines Berkeley's brand and ensures we are the clear partner of choice within our sector.
Other performance highlights include completing 3,698 homes, winning 27 Considerate Constructors Scheme National Site Awards and securing an independently assessed customer satisfaction score (Net Promoter Score) of 73.5 which is on a par with highly respected consumer brands. In a further mark of consistency, every Berkeley operating company achieved an Investors in Customers Gold Award in 2018.
An art competition with local pupils at Hartland Village; just one example of the community work that earned us 27 CCS National Site Awards in 2019
This was a breakthrough year for Berkeley's pioneering approach to reversing natural habitat loss and delivering a measurable net biodiversity gain on all new sites. Over 25 developments submitted for planning have targeted a net biodiversity gain through landscape design. We have delivered our first large scale net biodiversity gain landscape strategy at Kidbrooke Village in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust. Following our pioneering work in this field, this year the Government has announced that net biodiversity gain will be mandatory for new developments through national policy.
I am also delighted to report that in May 2019, Berkeley's company-wide approach to tackle climate change was credited with the Carbon Reduction or Offset Programme of the Year accolade at the Better Society Awards 2019. This fantastic result reflects our status as the country's only carbon positive residential developer, something we achieved in 2018.
Achieving net biodiversity gain at Kidbrooke Village
This was also a great year for project-level milestones and achievements. The regeneration of Woodberry Down in Hackney celebrated its 10th anniversary, as did Kidbrooke Village in Greenwich. At Southall Waterside, we have now welcomed the first local Ealing residents to this 88 acre former gasworks and seen more than 50 Londoners enrol in the site's state-of-the-art Construction Academy, delivered in partnership with West London College.
During the year, Berkeley made shareholder returns of £251.9 million, of which £198.9 million was represented by share buy-backs and £53.0 million by dividends. This included the £139.7 million scheduled return for the six months ended 31 March 2019. Of the £139.7 million return announced to be made by 30 September 2019, £5.2 million has been made to date through share buy-backs. The amount that will be returned as a dividend will be announced on 15 August 2019 and paid on 13 September 2019 to shareholders on the register on 23 August 2019, taking account of any further share buy-backs in the intervening period.
Members of the community attend opening of first homes at Southall Waterside; all of which are affordable
I am extremely proud of these results, and the unique operating model which underpins them. Most of all, I am grateful and indebted to our superb staff and fantastic partners. The passion and care they bring to their work are what give the places we create their life, pride and enduring value."
Tony Pidgley CBE