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Residential property management specialist delivers expansion by growing workforce to 250 and plans to recruit another 150 staff

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Residential property management specialist urbanbubble is forecasting strong revenue growth over the next five years after reporting an increase in sales of almost 50 per cent in the year to the end of June 2019.

The group of four businesses comprising its Manchester and Liverpool operations, sales and lettings and short-stay lettings operation Urbana, saw revenues in its financial year to the end of June 2019 increase by 46 per cent to £5.55m from £3.8m in the previous 12 months.

Manchester-based urbanbubble’s core business achieved total revenue of £3.69m in the most recent financial year, representing an increase of 46 per cent from £2.65m in the preceding 12 months.

The group expects to achieve turnover of £8m in the year to June 2020 and £11.5m in the following 12 months to June 2021.

urbanbubble reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £225,000 across the group, reflecting major investment in the group to prepare for growth which began in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The group is forecast to improve earnings to £620,000 by June 2020 and a total of £1.3m by June 2021.

Michael Howard, founder and managing director of urbanbubble, said: “Alongside strong revenue growth for the  next five years where we expect to continue to post 40 per cent sales growth over the same period, the senior leadership team is committed to driving continued annual improvements to EBITDA through leveraging of our scale, operating efficiencies and the use of technology with our residents and owners.”

To ensure the delivery of the forecast growth, Mr Howard said urbanbubble had increased its headcount to 250 full-time staff as of June 2019, with the number rising to 320 by June 2020 and to 400 by June 2021, led by a senior leadership team of seven including himself, a non-executive director and an advisor.

The business he founded 10 years ago from his apartment in the Northern Quarter of Manchester now manages a combined total of 10,000 residential units throughout England on behalf of property developers and institutional investors Legal & General and DTZ Investors (DTZi).

The urbanbubble partnership with Legal & General involves the management of Build-to-Rent (BtR) apartment schemes such as The Slate Yard in Salford, the 44-storey West Tower at Deansgate Square, Manchester and residential developments in Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Chelmsford and London.

It is also managing the Anco & Co development of 143 BtR apartments in Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester, fund managed by DTZi.

The firm manages leasehold residential schemes for property developers Salboy, Elliot Group, Property Alliance Group (PAG), Far East Consortium (FEC), Capital and Centric and Mulbury.

Mr Howard explained that the financial results for the year to end June 2019 represented one fully occupied BtR scheme – The Slate Yard.

Five other developments are ‘in mobilisation’ and fee earning and when two other schemes also mobilise during early 2020, all eight will provide an increase in fees earned for urbanbubble.

A successive wave of six schemes in the BtR portfolio of Legal & General will begin mobilisation in mid to late 2020.

In the year to end June 2019, urbanbubble launched its first scheme for Salboy – LOCAL Blackfriars in Salford with 383 residential units and finalised a deal with PAG to operate under white label in a JV that sees over 900 homes coming on board, including Axis Tower in Manchester. The Liverpool business has more than 1500 homes under block and lettings management contracts on behalf of Elliot Group.

During the next 12 months, urbanbubble will launch five more schemes for Salboy comprising about 1100 units, three for PAG, its first for Capital and Centric and Mulbury and more than 750 units for Elliot Group at The Address and Aura, both of which are in Liverpool.

In his market overview, Mr Howard said the UK residential retail sector was dominated by BtR and the ’exponential growth’ of homes and investment by institutional investors.

He explained: “urbanbubble is at the forefront of this sector with Legal & General and DTZi contracted for the operation of their burgeoning portfolios.

“While the industry is dominated by BtR, UK activity is concentrated in the North West with Manchester dominating the UK for the progressiveness of its local authority and private real estate sector working together to deliver the supply of new homes needed to abate the chronic shortages experienced since 2009.”

By the end of 2019, Mr Howard said a total of 6,000 new homes will have been provided in Manchester, Salford and Trafford city areas, followed by a further 7,000 in 2020 and 8,100 in 2021.

Referring to Greater Manchester, he said: “Whilst most looking from the outside in have raised an eyebrow at this level of supply, the city has just been catching up to meet the residential requirements of a growing, prospering and economically expanding city.”