Last Updated on Sunday, 22 August, 2021 at 3:23 pm by Cherise Quirolo
Trident Estates plc, a listed property investment company that owns and manages commercial property for rental and investment purposes, convened its 21st annual general meeting. For the second consecutive year, this was held remotely due to COVID-19. The current focus of the Group is two-pronged: the finalisation of the €60 million Trident Park project, and the conclusion of negotiations with an increasing number of tenants.
By the end of the financial year in January 2021, Trident Group had already secured over 40% occupancy of the space available at Trident Park. Tenants will be a balanced mix of corporate, legal and medical services, fund management, banking and a government entity, and comprise both local and foreign organisations. Given the impressive credentials of the development and the interest being shown, the Group’s board is cautiously optimistic that the take up of space will gather momentum over the coming months. Despite having to face the challenges of an unprecedented pandemic, Trident Park is on target to welcome its first tenants in September 2021.
Situated in the heart of the recently established Central Business District in Mrieħel, Trident Park is in the final stages of transforming the old Farsons Brewery building along Mdina Road into a modern office complex, respecting the best practice in terms of environmentally sustainable design, while aiming for BREEAM (*) excellent certification.
Trident Group’s business model is based on the ownership and rental of prime commercial properties. With a portfolio of properties based at key sites in a number of important business locations, the Group’s performance depends on the health of Malta’s commercial sector.
Addressing shareholders, Trident Group Chairman Mr Louis A. Farrugia explained that profitability for the year has been affected by discounts extended to current tenants following requests for rent abatements in view of the significant adverse effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.
Operating profit amounted to €362,000 (2020: €484,000) whilst profit before tax was €741,000 (2020: €328,000) and profit after tax €550,000 (2020: €74,000). These results include fair value movements on investment property amounting to €562,000. A valuation exercise, conducted by an independent firm of architects in the first quarter of 2021 and approved by the board of directors, represented a 2% uplift in property values.
Mr Farrugia said: “We believe that the unique environmentally friendly proposition within aesthetically pleasing building structures being offered at Trident Park will contribute to achieving our strategic goals. The old brewery building with its distinctive colonnade walls has, in our opinion, been restored and rehabilitated in a most elegant way. This project is being developed in tandem with The Brewhouse project, which will complement Trident Park by offering food, beverage and other facilities, an industrial heritage museum on the Farsons story, and venues for special events.”
Trident Group CEO Mr Charles Xuereb reported that group revenues for FY 2021 are largely on par with the previous year’s at €1.1 million, notwithstanding certain discounts extended to a number of tenants due to the pandemic realities. All structures and most civil works at Trident Park were completed and the main elements of the campus style development are now in place, with all of the eight office blocks and the five covered walkways handed over to finishing works. Over the course of the project, more than 2,000 concrete tests were carried out to ensure that all structural elements are fully compliant with the highest industry standards.
Mr Xuereb said: “Following the pandemic, when many companies opted for a hybrid office-home model, two potential factors seem to be emerging: the need for less office space, matched by the need for better quality office space, both in terms of facilities and environment and a lesser density per capita. In the uncertain forthcoming months, as the economy recovers from the pandemic upset, our Trident Park development will be well-placed to meet the demands of the emerging paradigm – a “green” environmentally-friendly campus office park, providing space, air, natural light and parking, with maximum flexibility in terms of individual configuration requirements.
Given the current pandemic-induced uncertainty and the fact that Trident Park development is in the final phases of completion, the Board decided that it would not be appropriate to declare any dividends at this time. The Group stated that while commercial property is always a long-term investment, its forward-looking strategy is already directed at ensuring that Trident Group delivers steady and reliable results once more quality tenants are engaged and income streams are secured.
The shareholders approved the income statement and statement of financial position for the year ended 31st January 2021 as well as the re-appointment of auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Board of Directors was also reconfirmed.
(*) BREEAM stands for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment. This is the most established method for assessing, classifying and certifying the sustainability of buildings worldwide.