12 July 2002

Crown estate sees profit lift

PROACTIVE management of the Crowns Rural Estate helped it to make a £13.4m net profit in the year ending Mar 31, 2002.

The 81,000ha (200,000 acre) estate has undergone considerable restructuring to allow tenants to diversify into profitable enterprises, in turn benefiting its bottom line, says Christopher Bourchier, head of rural estates.

"Our tenants, like other farming tenants across the country, have had a difficult year. Its been necessary to think imaginatively, and we are very pleased that our strategy is yielding dividends."

Some farms have been amalgamated to cut costs and allow older farmers to retire, and tenants have been encouraged to diversify to make the most of unused assets, he says.

The Crown Estates overall results, including urban property in the most affluent parts of London, show a net profit of £163.3m, 10% up on the previous year.

The Rural Estate surplus was up by a similar amount, despite a £1m loss through foot-and-mouth, while the asset value increased by 11%, to £335m.

All profits are paid into the treasury for taxpayers benefit. &#42