If there was any good news in today’s downbeat results update it was that he has at least got the retail property write-down out of the way.
That cost the best part of £1.2bn and plunged the FTSE100 group £837mln into the red.
Allan presumably would have been planning for that when took over the reins last month, but what might have caught him off guard is the possibility that going forward people might not want offices either.
Offices and shops account for 86% of Landsec’s current portfolio, with offices amounting to £6bn of the £11.7bn total ignoring those under development.
Land Securities says only 10% of its office space is being utilised at present due to the coronavirus lockdown and a big worry must surely be how many will remain empty when people do go back to work.
Anecdotally, the forced homeworking imposed on many when coronavirus restrictions were imposed in March have gone smoother than anyone might have imagined.
Office staff thinking about when they will physically go back to work might justifiably ask why the need?
Barclays boss Jes Staley echoed the thoughts of many two weeks ago when he said there was likely to be “a long-term adjustment” where companies would increasing use remote working rather than big offices.
“The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past,” Staley told reporters.
Rachel Winter, Associate Investment Director at Killik & Co, noted today: “Land Securities has paused construction on a number of developments, particularly office space in London as it considers what the long-term impact of Covid-19 will be.
“This ties in with recent news that office provider WeWork has defaulted on some of its own rental payments.
“At the moment the future of the office looks uncertain.”
Allan was putting on a brave face this morning.
“Even though most people are working from home at the moment, we don’t think this will result in the death of the office,” he told the Standard in London.
“There will be changes, but we do think firms will still want headquarters in London once the lockdown eases.
“We will be working with tenants to adapt their offices to meet any new guidelines.”
If making the gaps between desks bigger is all Landsecs has to do, it will have got off lightly.
Shares fell 11.5% to 560p, valuing the group at £4.8bn or half the value of three years ago.
Published at Tue, 12 May 2020 13:47:00 +0000-Land Securities’ boss needs quick response to new norms to right listing giant