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Talk of the Town The Official Newsletter of Towngate Plc
The Chairman’s Review As I predicted in the last edition, 2012 did turn out to be an interesting time. Fortunately, Towngate ended the year in better shape than it started thanks to the remarkable efforts of the property and marketing people in completing a number of new lettings, including units of 112,000 sq ft and 79,000 sq ft in Stockport and Leeds, respectively. We have lost some tenants, but overall the amount of void space reduced in the year. Also, we have re-geared some leases, and whilst these do not reduce the level of voids, they do protect the rental income for the future. A number of other tenants have approached us about re-gearing. Along with most property companies we rely on banks to provide finance, and banks require security for their loans. Due to our excellent positive cash flow we reduced borrowing by 7%, stayed within all banking covenants and extended two sizeable bank loans during the year. We approved expenditure of £1.3 million on improvements to existing properties, much of which comes out of the cash flow. The size of the portfolio reduced slightly due to property sales. However for the first time for five years we agreed a property purchase and completed early in 2013. A small start, but possibly the beginning of something bigger! Dealing with liquidity issues and with profitability and cash flow remaining strong, I feel more confident about the business and the economy in 2013. Mixed statistics continue to create uncertainty, but at least some economists predict improvements this year. We shall see!
David Smith Chairman
Also in this issue: Towngate’s 50th anniversary celebrations, ‘Celebrating 50 Years in Business’ commemorative booklet, timeline of events, Haigh Park Road features on Emmerdale... Plus lots more!
Talk of the Town
A golden anniversary â€“ 50 incredible years
And a day to remember 3rd August 2012 saw a celebration worthy of a grand occasion – Towngate’s 50th anniversary. Held at the Black House, Leeds, the combination of terrific company, a screening of the Olympic Games, exquisite food and plenty of bubbly ensured this was Towngate’s most fantastic event to date. David Smith captivated guests with his interesting, informative and humorous speech, during which he made reference to the early days, the obstacles he has overcome over the years, the people who have helped shape the Towngate Group and the strength and support of his family and friends. David concluded his speech with a Champagne Toast to the Towngate Group and all who have played a part in its success. David and his two sons, Alan and Robert, then shouldered the responsibility of cutting a specially-commissioned 3-tier Towngate celebration cake, after which all the guests enjoyed a slice or two! Having Towngate’s 50th anniversary coincide with such an amazing event as the London 2012 Olympics was particularly special – the anniversary celebrations launched a fantastic weekend for GB, with 6 gold medals alone won during the following 2 days. Winning athletes included Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah, who successfully won the Heptathlon, Long Jump and 10,000m events respectively.
Commemorative Booklet now available 1962 - 2012
Celebrating 50 Years in Business
An introduction to David Smith, Chairman. After graduating from Agricultural College, David set up a business in 1962, designing and manufacturing poultry equipment, and later, formed another business in leisure activities. Managing the properties associated with the business became an important element in operational running, which he enjoyed. He soon realised that he would rather be a landlord than a tenant.
Towngate was the place of David’s birth in Clifton, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, and was subsequently taken as the name for the business.
David sold these businesses in the 1980s’ and formed the Towngate Group, specialising in re-generating old industrial properties, dividing them into more commercially viable units and refurbishing them to modern standards.
Celebrating 50 years in Business
In commemoration of this very special event, Julia Ford, Marketing Manager, has written “Celebrating 50 years in business”. The book contains facts and images and gives a real insight into the Group and its continuing success, including describing the formation of Towngate by David Smith in 1962 and key events within the Group up until the current day. If you would be interested in receiving a copy, please email email@example.com
Timeline of Events In addition to the commemorative book, a Timeline of events was produced to outline the progression of the company over the 50 years.
As a memento, all guests at the celebration were presented with their very own personalised gold Towngate Olympic style medal and the majority wore their medals with pride throughout the day! “We would like to thank all our guests for coming along and helping to make the day so special and we now look forward to the challenges we will face over the next 50 years!” commented David.
Dressed for success Towngate has recently been pleased to be able to offer ideal storage space for River Island, at another of their sites in Leeds. The unit provides excellent accessibility to the main arterial routes/motorway network and of course, River Island’s own new Trinity Leeds store. River Island moved in during mid January 2013.
Talk of the Town
Lights... Camera... Action! Toward the end of last year, the producers of Yorkshire soap Emmerdale were getting anxious that they wouldn’t be able to film their explosive Christmas episode as they were struggling to find a suitable location – until they spoke to Towngate! Towngate offered the use of our very own Haigh Park Road, Stourton, Leeds site for the sequence. The scene showed character Cameron Murray’s van being set alight and was shown on TV on Friday 28th December. Julia Ford, Marketing Manager, and Philip Caspell, Property Surveyor, went along to the screening on a very cold November morning and met the Director and crew, along with actor Dominic Power, who plays the part of Cameron. Julia stated “We found the whole thing fascinating and had no idea how much work is involved in the creation of just one scene. It was tremendously realistic and effective and, once the fire was lit, it took no time at all for the whole van to become engulfed in flames”. The site at Haigh Park Road forms part of the well established and prominently located Stourton Point Industrial and Distribution Park, which extends to approximately 74 acres, being one of the region’s largest industrial complexes. Towngate is currently marketing to let storage/parking/development land from 1 – 12 acres.
Tea, Toast and a Tour! Around 40 Leeds industrial agents enjoyed breakfast and a Landrover Experience with us at Haigh Park Road in early November. The event ensured that the agents fully understood the advantages of the site and also included a full tour of Warehouse 3 and the available land adjacent to it.
Towngate in a muddle! Win an iPad Mini!
This single storey industrial/warehouse unit forms part of the well established and prominently located Stourton Point Industrial Park in Stourton, Leeds. It’s an ideal location as it has excellent access to the M621, M1 and the national motorway network beyond. Can you unscramble the image and put Towngate back in the picture? We’ve created an online jigsaw, which features an aerial shot of our very own Towngate Business Centre in Widnes. We’re recording the times taken to complete the puzzle and the lucky winner will be presented with an iPad mini. Please visit www.towngate.plc.uk/competition and follow the instructions to enter the competition. Good luck!
Another “grout” deal
Another deal driven through
A deal with The Yorkshire Tile Company Limited (YTC) now sees the Olympia Trade Park, Leeds, fully let! The contract to let the newly refurbished, 10,271 sq ft trade counter/warehouse property was completed late in 2012, with the company opening for business at their new location on the 1st December. The lease covers a 9 year period and sees YTC join existing tenants Screwfix Direct and National Lighting at the trade park. “We were delighted to welcome our new tenants The Yorkshire Tile Company Limited, onto the Olympia Trading Estate and have no doubt that their decision to relocate to such a highly visible and sought after spot will help strengthen their already excellent name within the industry and create maximum business opportunities,” commented Philip Caspell. YTC has over 37 years experience within the tile industry and occupies 5 showrooms across Yorkshire and in Worksop. The new location at Olympia Trade Park, Gelderd Road, has seen a relocation of their Leeds operation from their previous premises on Stanningley Road, Armley.
The 4-day week man John Wignall, affectionately known as “Wiggy”, reduced his working week to 4 days from August 2012, having hit the grand age of 60. John, who is Head of the Property Department, will have worked for Towngate for 20 years in September 2013, becoming one of the longest standing members of staff. John can now enjoy long weekends at home in the Lake District, whilst pursuing his hobbies; cycling and walking.
Towngate completed a deal with webuyanycar.com to take a 3 year lease of a 3,189 sq ft industrial/warehouse property at the M1 Industrial Estate, Church Street, Hunslet, Leeds during April 2012. The newly refurbished unit, strategically positioned close to Leeds City Centre and the motorway network, offers superb accessibility for the company. We have no doubt that webuyanycar.com’s unique marketing approach and popularity will assist in putting this particular area of Hunslet on the map as an excellent position for companies looking to expand or relocate. webuyanycar.com was formed in 2006 and offers a quick and easy solution to the sale of vehicles. Their success continues and, in September 2011, webuyanycar.com was launched in the US.
Towngate sponsor the beer festival Towngate were again one of the sponsors of the 2013 Ilkley Round Table Beer Festival which took place on Friday the 8th February 2013.
Talk of the Town
Ideal location for logistics
Office Focus 4 High Court is undergoing a facelift! The property is prominently located in the heart of The Calls area of Leeds, fronting the Leeds Inner Loop Road. The popular Calls area is renowned for its association with prestigious restaurants and leisure facilities and is a popular office location. The property is further enhanced by its proximity to Leeds Centre and Leeds City Bus Station and Railway Station.
Parker International Ltd, a Dukinfield based third party logistics (3PL) company, has expanded its operations with the occupation of 77,147 sq ft at the Towngate Business Centre, Everite Road, Widnes. “Our latest venture into additional satellite hub premises will open up business opportunities for clients who need a stock presence within a 10 mile radius of Widnes and beyond,” explained Parker International Director David Brennand. “We want to replicate the success we have enjoyed with our 200,000 sq ft site at Dukinfield and match our growth in e-commerce fulfilment with significantly more warehousing capability. “Towngate Business Centre is the ideal location, close to North West motorway links, Manchester, Liverpool and, of course, both the air and sea ports.” The new warehouse facility has fully approved and authorised ‘dry bonded’ status from HM Revenue & Customs, which plays a significant role in helping importers improve cash flow management and stock storage. It’s also a highly-secure site, making it suitable for all types of industry occupiers. The company is hoping to expand its existing workforce of 35 as a result of the deal, with the option for growth on the new site and further capacity to manage up to 100,000 sq ft of storage. “More and more of our clients are looking for greater efficiency and ways of reducing costs with better methods of operation,” added Mr Brennand. “It’s increasingly important that they can rely on us to provide and successfully deliver a comprehensive logistics solution for them.”
The property provides accommodation split over ground, first and second floor levels and benefits from secure, on-site parking. The renovation works have included refurbishment of the entrance incorporating a new canopy, the opening up of the office space, the addition of recessed lighting, a new heating system and refurbished kitchens. We have already received a great deal of interest in the property, which is available to let over 3 floors on a floor by floor basis, and we are pleased to announce that the ground floor is now under offer. The remaining space includes two floors comprising 2,306 sq ft each. The Lenny Agency, who initially occupied Suite 4 on the second floor of Parkview House, expanded during 2012 and relocated to Suite 7 of this property. We were happy to be able to accommodate them into a larger space and would like to congratulate them on their success.
Please visit www.parkerinternational.co.uk or call 0161 330 7421.
We would like to welcome Troy Chemical Company to Woodvale who took occupancy in January 2013. They have moved into two office suites on the second floor at Parkview House.
New Tenants during 2012
June 2012 System Air Fans & Spares Ltd Unit C1 Copley Hill Trading Estate, Leeds
February 2012 Rexel UK Limited Unit E5 Copley Hill Trading Estate, Leeds
April 2012 webuyanycar.com Unit 2 M1 Industrial Estate, Leeds
March 2012 Allied Glass Containers Ltd Unit 2 Towngate Link, Cross Green Ind Est, Leeds
Allied Glass show a lot more bottle
Allied Glass Containers is the UK’s fourth largest glass container manufacturer, producing 13 million bottles every week – and they’re still growing! Their latest expansion has led to the company leasing even more property from the Towngate Group. During April 2012, the company agreed a lease deal on Unit 2 Towngate Link, which is located adjacent to their current operation in Unit 1 Towngate Link, Cross Green Industrial Estate in Leeds. Their initial lease of Unit 1 was agreed on a 10-year basis and the new lease deal will run alongside that. Leasing adjoining warehouse units is already working well for the company, who also occupy space at Haigh Park Road, Stourton - another property included within the Towngate portfolio. The deal sees just one unit remaining at Towngate Link - Unit 3 (62,689 sq ft). This unit offers great potential, with excellent main road frontage onto the East Leeds Link Road, close to J45 of the M1, and extensive yard/storage/parking space. The expansion land to the front would make an excellent petrol station location, food or hospitality facility. “We are thrilled that our tenants continue to do well, despite the challenging times facing the UK manufacturing industry. It is always encouraging to the Towngate Group to know that we are valued by our tenants, who continue to speak with us when their property requirements change,” remarked John Wignall.
September 2012 Pallet Sales & Repairs Site 3A Haigh Park Road, Stourton, Leeds December 2012 J W Crowther & Son Ltd Site 4, Haigh Park Road, Stourton, Leeds
Worldwide electrical distributor comes to Leeds
Rexel UK Limited now has a new trade counter/ warehouse space at Copley Hill Trading Estate in Leeds, thanks to a deal struck with Towngate in February 2012. Rexel UK, trading as W F Senate, are part of the Rexel Group, which operates in 34 countries supplying a range of electrical, maintenance, control & automation, environmental and health & safety products. The company has taken a 10 year lease on the 4,985 sq ft trade counter/warehouse property at Copley Hill. The unit is ideally located for W F Senate’s needs, having prominence onto the Whitehall Road and the “Big Yellow” roundabout, positioned in the heart of this thriving trade counter region of Leeds. “It was a pleasure to welcome our new tenants W F Senate onto the Copley Hill Trading Estate. The proximity of the unit to Leeds city centre and the motorway network ensures maximum exposure and we hope they will enjoy many years of successful trading from the site,” Philip Caspell. The Copley Hill Trading Estate is strategically located only 1.5 miles from Leeds City Centre and 1.5 miles from Junction 1 of the M621 motorway and the Leeds Outer Ring Road (A6110). It is one of Leeds prime trade counter estates with tenants including; Plumb Centre, Howdens, PTS and Crown Paints. Towngate is currently marketing to let 3,000 – 15,000 sq ft at this popular location.
July 2012 Multiparts Europe Ltd Unit 1, New Princess Street, Holbeck, Leeds May 2012 Summerhouse Conservatories Ltd Unit 3A, Olympia Trading Estate, Leeds
September 2012 The Yorkshire Tile Company Ltd Unit 1 Olympia Trade Park, Leeds March 2012 BPM Tech Ltd Suite 1, Parkview House, Brighouse
Talk of the Town
A skate park that’s the Works!
Drumming up new business at Hazel Grove
Towngate tenants, The Works Skatepark is now a fully-fledged charity.
New tenant, Fibrestar Drums, are all set to occupy Towngate’s property at Newby Road, Hazel Grove, Stockport. The move from their current Disley home marks a significant moment for the company – increasing their production space by 32,000 sq ft and thereby nearly doubling their production capacity.
To mark this occasion, the new social enterprise was launched on June 14th 2012 with an event at the Airedale Industrial Estate, Hunslet, site. The Lord Mayor of Leeds was one of the guests who enjoyed the celebration, which included a skate and BMX demo and a dance performance by Middleton-based dance group Dazl, as well as refreshments, an introduction to the park and a plaque unveiling. The vision of the charity is to make the facilities accessible and affordable to all, providing a safe environment where children, young people and adults can engage in non-traditional sport on a regular basis. The charity also has an emphasis on reducing obesity levels in young people, building community cohesion and targeting disaffected young people through sport. The Works Skatepark currently works with the NHS and schools delivering a range of activities to children and young people, including sessions run in school time, after school and in the holidays. Sessions are run for young people who are not active (re-introducing them into a sport that is non-traditional, fun and different), overweight (giving them confidence), NEET (giving them some focus and developing their skills) and much more. The Works Skatepark charity was established by purchasing the shares of The Leeds Skatepark, with the assistance of Leeds Community Foundation, Jimbo’s Fund (part of HESCO Bastion) and the Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF). All profits made by the charity will go back into developing the skatepark and into projects offered across Leeds benefiting children and young people
The 110,000 sq ft property came back to Towngate in June 2012 and, following an extensive marketing campaign including the “Nuts” mailer (above), an agreement was reached with Fibrestar Drums for them to occupy the premises on a 10 year lease. Founded in 1949, Fibrestar is the UK’s largest manufacturer of fibre drums for the pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries, with annual sales of around £6m per year. Major customers include AstraZeneca, Novartis and Dow Europe. The company’s ambitious growth plans include targeting new sectors and developing new products, for example they’ve developed products for the transportation and storage of liquids and are looking to expand into the food and drink sector. The fibre drums have a significantly lower carbon footprint than plastic and steel alternatives. Through research commissioned with the University of Manchester, the business has established that switching to fibre-based packaging can reduce a business’ CO2 emissions by as much as 30%. Managing director Colin Pardoe recently commented: “Over the past decade we’ve led an aggressive product development programme to meet the changing needs of our key markets.” “As the economic and environmental pressures on our customers continue to grow, we see significant potential to develop markets through the sustainable and lower-cost qualities of fibre drums.” “The move to new premises is a significant milestone for the business as we gear up for this new phase of growth, delivering some major benefits including cost savings, a more efficient layout and vastly improved access.”