Our team have remained agile and have adapted well to the challenges the pandemic has presented us with over the last twelve months. We took the decision during national lockdowns to close our office and implement full remote working to protect the safety of our workforce and suppliers. With the roll out of the vaccination programme and restrictions easing, all staff are now back working safely from our Manchester office. With additional resource added to the Group and staff returning to office working we have moved into a larger office space which also allows for future expansion.
We are fortunate that our own operations have been largely unaffected during the pandemic. However, we have experienced challenges with some partners and stakeholders having to make major adjustments in order to adapt to a new working environment. Overall, we have found that the majority of businesses have been proactive and resourceful in the circumstances, and I am looking forward to the market returning to full capacity and pre pandemic levels of engagement and service over the coming months as more staff return back to the office and face-to-face meetings recommence.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE EVALUATION (ESG)
Although only nine months into life as a Public Listed Company, we are placing a significant emphasis on conducting our business activities ethically and responsibly. I have been pleased with the progress the Group has made as our full ESG strategy evolves .
We are undertaking a review of our developments to identify ways to make them greener and more environmentally friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. Certain initiatives have been identified to switch to greener materials which include a brown roof in our Queen Street, Sheffield development
We are committed to supporting local communities and giving back to society, especially in regions where our developments are located. In addition to the charitable work outlined earlier, further steps have been taken to engage with local employers and schools to identify ways we can work closely together. We will be inviting local primary schools to help with planting around our buildings and we will be collaborating with colleges and their students studying construction. We have implemented a new staff policy where staff are able to take an additional two days leave to be dedicated to charitable means.
We have also introduced initiatives to enhance the well-being of our employees which includes monthly social events, charitable activities and an extension to our remuneration package which includes a new employee assistance programme, which provides a range of support tools for employees wellbeing.
We adhere to the QCA code. More details can be found on page 14.
While property sales have remained strong and the industry has performed well over the period, I am expecting a more normalised level of market activity to return towards the end of 2021 and early 2022. As mentioned above, we are currently seeing building material price increases in the market. We will continue to work closely with our construction partners in order to manage price risk and minimise the impact on the viability of our developments.
Our sales programme has largely remained unaffected during the pandemic because our target purchasers are not owner occupiers and are not dependant on the mortgage market and government initiates such as Help to Buy. As the majority of our purchasers are based overseas, they are also not reliant on 'in person' viewings either. We continue to see strong demand for affordable housing from registered housing providers and in August we signed an agreement to deliver 42 apartments in Oldham for Arcon Housing, a subsidiary of Bolton at Home with the support of Homes England. The Group remains well placed to establish longer term relationships with registered providers such as these to help deliver the higher volume of affordable housing that they are seeking.
The private rental sector (PRS) market continues to experience strong demand from overseas investors for housing across the North of England in particular. We will continue to expand the level of service we provide to third party investors and build on the four development management agreements we have in place, which includes the addition of a 58 apartment development in Sheffield on behalf of overseas investors.
We remain positive on the outlook for the property market. The Government's commitment to 'levelling up' is welcomed and with the continuing undersupply of quality housing in the North West of England, the region will continue to be an attractive area for investment. The strong demand from overseas investors in particular, despite the pandemic and travel restrictions, gives us optimism about the prospects for our business as the economy recovers.
Our core strategic objectives will remain in place over the forthcoming period as the Group focuses on the successful delivery of our projects, the sale of completed units, enhancing the infrastructure needed to build our pipeline and recruiting exceptional talent.
I was delighted to be appointed as Non-Executive Chairman to One Heritage Group PLC in December 2020 following our successful listing on the Standard List of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. In the short time I have been with the Company, I have been pleased to see the way in which the executive management team, with clear focus and determination, has begun to implement our strategy for sustainable growth. In this period I have seen the Group complete on the acquisition of new development projects, sign additional development management agreements and also manage a rapid restructuring of our property management and lettings provision following difficulties encountered by the current service provider.
Dividend and dividend policy
The Group did not generate a profit in the financial year and is therefore not proposing a dividend. This is in line with the dividend policy set out in the prospectus. The Group expects to pay a dividend in the future when it is generating recurring and growing profits.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE EVALUATION (ESG)
The Board of Directors takes our ESG responsibilities very seriously. I am pleased that since joining the business I have been part of a working group that has been proactive in finding ways to promote social causes, for example through the employee led Social and Charity Committee.
Reducing our environmental impact as a property development business is a particularly challenging area given the outsized contribution to carbon emissions from building materials, but even with this I have noted that the Group is constantly looking at greener design and material options, local procurement and working with local communities, such as schools, to improve the local environment. The Board see this as a priority for the business.
Whilst the business is only at the beginning of its journey, there is a clear focus on creating a strong governance structure. We recognise that shareholder and other stakeholder outcomes are improved by ensuring that good governance is in place. More details on the steps in this regard taken by the Group can be found in the sections of this annual report which relate to the QCA Corporate Governance Code (page 14) and The Role of the Board (page 19).
The Board believe that diversity is important to the success of the Group in the future and was pleased to see Mrs Alie Horton join as the Property Operations Director in the new financial year. We are focused on ensuring that there are equal opportunities and committed to increasing diversity.
Finally, I would like to thank our shareholders and other stakeholders for their support during the first part of the Group's journey. Most of all, I want to thank our directors and employees throughout the business, who continue to grow with every opportunity and challenge that they face. I am particularly impressed by the corporate culture which is fast emerging, the creativity and the resilience that everyone demonstrates, even in just a short time.
The full version of the OHG annual report will be available on its website shortly at https://www.oneheritageplc.com /.
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 (MAR). Upon the publication of this announcement, this inside information is now considered to be in the public domain. For the purposes of MAR and Article 2 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1055.
One Heritage Group plc
Chief Executive Officer
Hybridan LLP (Financial Adviser and Broker)
Claire Louise Noyce
Tel: +44 (0)203 764 2341
About One Heritage Group
One Heritage Group PLC is a property development and management company. It focuses on the residential sector primarily in the north-west of England, seeking out value and maximising opportunities for its investors. It has a team of dedicated residential property development experts. In 2020 One Heritage Group PLC became one of the first publicly listed residential developers with a focus on co-living.
The Company is listed on the Standard List of the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange, trading under the ticker OHG.
For further information, please visit the Company's website at https://www.oneheritageplc.com/
References to page numbers throughout this announcement relates to the page numbers within the Annual Report of the Company for the year ended 30 June 2021.
Group's Financial Review
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