Topland Group: Annual Chairman's Statement

Author: Topland | Date: 17 Feb 2017

Topland Group, one of Europe’s largest privately-owned international investment groups, has issued its latest Annual Chairman’s Statement.

Commenting on the group’s diversified activities including property investment, development, hotel management, structured finance and venture capital, Sol Zakay, Executive Chairman and CEO, said: “Despite widespread economic uncertainty, 2016 proved a very successful year for Topland across all our platforms.  As an equity-rich group with an entrepreneurial ethos, we have been uniquely placed to capitalise on some of the opportunities presented both pre and post-Brexit.

“Our structured finance division has had a hugely successful year, issuing some £350m of new loans in 2016, which has brought the total loan book value to £750m.  In an era of conservative lending, we are proud to offer a range of alternative products and solutions.  In particular, we have deployed significant funds into joint ventures with developers and I am keen to grow this business further.  We remain keen to partner with those who have the expertise and opportunity, but not the equity, to bring projects forward.  A recent success story is our joint venture with Marrick Capital on a hotel development at Manchester’s Trafford City.  This will be the first of many, having earmarked s£100m for similar projects in key regeneration areas throughout the UK.

“Topland has a long-established track record in hotel investment and operation, which has continued apace during 2016.  With a portfolio of 40 hotels, 28 of which are operated directly by Topland, the group has built an operating platform to focus on improving the existing hotels, exploiting economies of scale and developing the Hallmark stable into a national hotel brand.  This positions us as one of the fastest-growing owner operators in the UK’s mid-market hotels sector and we remain committed to building a £1bn hotel business through further acquisitions of both stand-alone assets and portfolios.

“In addition to building a leading UK leisure business, Topland is actively looking to acquire branded or unbranded hotels abroad in mainland Europe or in the Caribbean.

“In a further significant strategic move Topland has become a major player in the Healthcare sector. We exceeded the allocated £250m into this sector in 2016 and anticipate this being doubled in 2017 as we team up with specialists and move into the various niche areas of the healthcare sector.  Another successful niche area is our co-investment with Barclays in the natural resources sector, which is going from strength-to-strength having invested $1.1bn into 14 start-up businesses.

“2016 saw Topland continue to acquire property investments offering active asset management plays, such as multi-lets in Northampton, Reading and Edinburgh and our re-entry into the London market with deals in Upper James Street, Soho and Hanwell. Our strategic focus is on delivering strong performance across a diverse investment portfolio comprising multi-let assets in core provincial markets such as Bristol, Cardiff, Reading and Solihull.  With extensive in-house management expertise, we have achieved notable successes such as an extensive refurbishment of Bristol’s Whitefriars, which has driven occupancy up to 98%.  We will continue to seek asset management opportunities through the acquisition of assets with short-dated income, an element of vacancy and the ability to further add value.

“As a group we are looking forward to 2017 with a sense of confidence and optimism.  The investment climate is undoubtedly more challenging, but our entrepreneurial culture and in-depth experience across a diverse range of sectors and money ready to deploy puts us in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the prevailing market inertia.”