LONDONMETRIC PLC – THE REAL ESTATE PIONEERS

Published: 23 February 2022

This year Lifeline IT turns 20 years old and to mark this landmark anniversary, we’ll be talking to some of our long-standing clients who have been with us during our journey.

First up is LondonMetric Plc, a client since 2013, although members of the company’s senior management have known and worked with Lifeline IT for many years before this.

LondonMetric is a property company that owns and manages real estate across the UK. Much of the company’s role involves managing warehouse properties that enable retailers such as Amazon to store and despatch goods quickly.

We talk to the company’s Finance Director, Martin McGann, to find out more about how the property market is benefitting from the growth in online shopping and how it’s weathered the pandemic.

What is LondonMetric?

We’re a FTSE 250 REIT that owns and manages desirable real estate that meets occupiers’ needs and delivers reliable, repetitive and growing income-led returns over the long term. We began as London & Stamford Property in 2007 and merged with Metric Property Investment in 2013 to create LondonMetric.

We own properties valued at just over £3 billion and we employ more than 30 people. About 75% of our properties are logistic warehouses and the remaining 25% are what we call ‘long income’, which caters for the growing convenience retail market, as more consumers shift away from the weekly shop and move towards frequent grocery shopping.

How have you found the last couple of years during the pandemic?

We have been lucky in that we’ve benefitted from the huge growth in online shopping as people stayed at home. We have an increased number of warehouses that we can rent to online companies needing space to store goods. The shift towards online was happening anyway, but the pandemic just accelerated that. The percentage of non-food retail sales online has grown to 23% and is expected to increase further to 28% by 2023.

Have there been any challenges during the last two years?

Not from a business performance point of view, but it has been difficult for the team having to work from home. Lifeline IT were very good at getting us set up quickly with Microsoft Teams and making sure everyone had laptops. But it’s good to be back in the office and not have to rely on home working.

What have been the highlights during your time at the company?

We managed to come through the global financial crisis of 2008 in terrific shape – we had no debt so that really helped. The merger with Metric was a defining moment for the company and the shift in the portfolio towards logistics has led to a tripling in size in the last eight years.

What do you think the future for commercial property will be in the next five to ten years?

It’s hard to predict really – not everyone foresaw the shift towards online shopping and the decline in shopping centres over the last five to ten years. The one thing that will be interesting to watch is what happens with the office market – will there be the same need for office space as there was before the pandemic? It’s still early days as to whether companies continue with hybrid working in the long term.

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