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Unite Group Post First Half Loss

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

The UK's largest operator of student accommodation, Unite Group, has posted a first-half loss of £73.9m, down from a profit of £125.5m reported in the previous year.

The deterioration in results was attributed to a valuation loss over the period of £138.4m (H1 2019: £74.3m gain).

Reservations for the 2020-21 academic year are at 84%, versus 93% a year earlier. The company is targeting 90% occupancy for 2020-21, leading to a 10-20% reduction in rental income compared to 2019-20.

The company also said it has growing visibility and confidence over its income, which reflects the strength of its university relationships and demand from UK students.

Unite's strategy to target a greater proportion of domestic students has resulted in UK students equating to 28% of direct-let bookings to date, compared to 24% in 2019-10.

Commenting on the results, Richard Smith, chief executive of Unite Students, said: "I am proud of the response of our business through this uniquely challenging period. Our focus has been on doing the right thing for all stakeholders."

"We were the first student accommodation provider to forgo summer term rents and one of the first to have Covid Secure status accredited by the British Safety Council."

"I believe our decisive actions have enhanced our reputation with universities, students and parents."

The results were announced as Unite launched a new charter to support students following the Covid-19 lockdown.

Whilst it is not binding, the charter sets out principles and expected behaviour standards with a focus on the student experience while ensuring adherence to Covid-19 restrictions.