Trident Estates plc, a property investment company that owns and manages property for rental and investment purposes, on Friday convened its 20th annual general meeting remotely due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

The current primary focus of the Group is the completion of Trident Park, which is transforming the old Farsons Brewery along Mdina Road into a modern office complex, spread over 13 tumoli of land, while “following best practice in terms of environmentally sustainable design and aiming for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment (BREEAM) excellent certification”.

Addressing the shareholders, Trident Group Chairman Louis Farrugia reported that Group turnover increased by 7 per cent to reach €1,152,000 over the previous comparative period, while operating profit increased by 68 per cent from €288,000 to €484,000.

The Group posted a net profit of €74,000 for the financial year ending 31st January 2020, compared to €775,000 recorded for the previous financial year. No fair value gains on investment property were recorded during the financial year under review, compared to €803,000 last year.

Referring to the interim financial results, Mr Farrugia said that the revenue between February and July 2020 decreased marginally to €562,000 from €575,000 for the previous year.

“This reduction is not fully representative of discounts afforded to current tenants of Trident properties as these are now being spread over the respective lease period,” the Group said in a statement.

The pre-tax profit was €117,000 (2019: €135,000). The tax expense disproportionately amounted to €122,000 (2019: € 123,000), which resulted in a marginal loss of €5,000 (2019: €12,000).

Trident Group CEO Mr Charles Xuereb reported that, in recent months the Group concluded negotiations with a number of tenants and operators of amenities.

As announced by the company at the end of July 2020, Trident Park was selected as the preferred bidder to house the offices for the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

The total area committed for office use so far stands at 4,462 m2 out of an available total upon completion of 15,745 m2. The operators for the gym, wellness areas, restaurant and childcare centre have also been selected.

So far, the Trident Park project has been financed by funds raised in the rights issue of 2019. It is anticipated that drawdowns from the loan facility will commence later this year.

Mr Farrugia informed shareholders that, provided there is no further deterioration of the current situation in so far as the availability of labour, raw material and equipment delivery dates as a result of COVID-19, it is envisaged that Trident Park will welcome its first tenants by June 2021.

He said that, as noted in Trident Estates’ 2019/2020 annual report, once completed, the financial outcome of the development will depend on two main factors: the rate at which the property achieves occupancy, and the rental rates and related charges negotiated.

The current expectation continues to be that the take-up of space will be at a slower pace than that originally projected, and that rental rates will be faced with downward pressure. However, the extent to which this expectation comes to fruition is highly dependent on the timing and outcome of the eventual post-COVID-19 economic recovery.

In the coming months, the Group will be launching a comprehensive marketing campaign for the project in its endeavour to continue attracting high quality tenants. In this regard, management is presently in discussions with certain prospective tenants despite the fact that the current adverse economic conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a number of businesses to delay decisions concerning the relocation of their business operations.

Trident’s management and the board will continue to examine the various possible outcomes, taking into account any changes in circumstances and will keep the situation under constant review.

The board believes that the excellent environmental credentials and unique proposition of the project bodes well for the eventual success of Trident Park.

The interest in the quality and uniqueness of the project from prospective tenants, as well as the recently signed on tenants and other stakeholders, gives further encouragement to the decision taken by the board last year to press forward with the expeditious completion of the project.

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