Interview

Leaders in focus: Charles Middleton

Agenda magazine Agenda magazine

Charles Middleton is The British Land Company’s group financial controller. With a portfolio valued at around £18 billion, the FTSE 100 property investment company is building more and more of the places in which we live and work.

In London, it has created many of the popular new mixed-use working campuses, including those at Regent’s Place and Paddington Central.

What is your role?

As group financial controller (GFC), I look after financial and operational controls including financial reporting, operational control processes, tax, internal audit, insurance, etc. The role is to ensure that processes run smoothly with no surprises.

How has the business grown?

Over the last six years we’ve seen a 40% growth in underlying profits. Our portfolio is currently worth around £18 billion: half in London offices and half in retail assets. Our most successful developments are mainly in London.

How have UK working spaces changed?

Well-designed working spaces serve a number of purposes for the economy. They help to improve the overall productivity of an enterprise, and attract and retain talent. Another really important aspect of well-designed buildings is their impact on wellbeing. When British Land has a new project, we try to encompass all these aspects of work and life to design a building from the office layout to the bicycle facilities.

Real estate advisory

Issues relating to real estate will almost certainly touch upon your organisation in one way or another - whether you are an owner-occupier or tenant.

Why do those factors matter?

There will always be financial constraints, but social and environmental are two very important measures of a company’s success. Large institutional investors regularly ask us how we match up on various sustainability indices – and the scores are probably a factor to be considered when they decide where to allocate capital.

Why is innovation important?

We’ve made a conscious decision to innovate by building more partnerships with local communities, because British Land often has a wide, community-based mandate to fulfil. For example, we’re currently developing a 53-acre site in Canada Water, Southwark, that’s a major regeneration project in collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including the local community.

What does 'disruption' mean?

Disrupting an industry is about continuing to challenge the status quo. In the property sector, how we do business today is different to how it was done five years ago, and we’re getting smarter about how to embrace technological change. An example of disruption in our industry is a start-up we’ve recently invested in called the International Property Securities Exchange (IPSX): the first dedicated real estate exchange platform.

For more information on our real estate and construction services, please contact Kersten Muller.

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