As a business that creates space for change, the value we offer our tenants and investors has many dimensions. Success is not only about achieving a strong financial performance but it also depends on our ability to deliver positive social and environmental impact.
This combined focus on people, planet and profit is often referred to as the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ and has always been a natural way for us to measure how we are doing. It means that as well as the using traditional financial performance indicators, we also measure our environmental and social impact and report on all three elements each year.
Ultimately, our aim is to operate a financially sustainable and profitable business that delivers significant ‘triple bottom line impact’. Without financial success and the profit this brings, the company could not exist – but we only exist in the first place in order to make real change happen for people and the planet, through the workspaces that we provide.
We create places for people with purpose, so our social performance is focused around the changemakers who make use of our buildings. By supporting enterprises that have clear community benefit, we can help build a more sustainable economy. From a base of two centres when we were formed in 1998, we now have 21 centres across England, Scotland and Wales in which we support more than 1,000 charities, social enterprises, small businesses and not-for-profits each year through the provision of office, conference, meeting, event, educational, studio and retail space.
In total we housed 276 organisations as tenants in 2019/20 – 86% of whom told us that our centres manage to benefit the wider community and 91% of whom said we offered good value for money.
The commitment and happiness of our staff is also an important factor. In our most recent staff survey, 91% said they were satisfied with our working culture and 95% said they enjoyed working for us. We also want to support the creation of a more inclusive society by promoting equality. As an employer who believes strongly in opportunities for everyone, we are proud to report a median gender pay gap of -6.2% compared to a national average of 18.4%.
Doing our best for the planet means committing ourselves to cutting the resources we consume and generating our own, renewable energy to put back.
We’re making progress on both. Most centres are achieving our target rate of below 170 kWh per m² of energy consumption; our average rate is even better, at 134 kWh per m² in 2019/20. During the past decade we have achieved an average energy efficiency rate of 138 kWh per m². Meanwhile, water consumption across our centres was 0.44 m³ per m² in 2019/20 and has averaged 0.53 m3 per m² since 2010/11.
In addition to lowering consumption, we aim to offset energy use through an ongoing programme to install solar panels on our buildings. Generation of solar electricity across our centres increased from 2,000 kWh ten years ago to 21,000 kWh in 2017/18 – and then more than quadrupled to 92,177 kWh in 2019/20. We are now generating 6.1% of our energy usage. During 2020, we also achieved our target of moving all of our buildings to 100% renewable energy sources.
Our property portfolio was valued at £63.7 million in 2018/19, having grown in value by more than 280% during the past decade. During the same period, our lettable space increased by more than 40%, from 127,000 ft² to 180,000 ft². We aim to have our properties valued independently every three years, with the last valuation carried out by Savills. The property values are also reviewed annually by the directors, using market data. Our balance sheet is also healthy, with net assets at £45.3 million in 2018/19, while profit for the year was £1.1 million. Since 2010/11, our net asset value per share has increased from £1.54 to £3.03. Dividends have been issued every year apart from one during the past decade, with an average payment of 2.3 pence, and dividends paid last year totalled 6.5 pence per share.