Land Securities is the UK's largest property company by market capitalisation. It is a public limited company and is included in the FTSE 100. It owns approximately £8 billion of retail, office and industrial space in the UK. Its activities include developing property and renting it out to a range of different occupiers. The vision of the company is "to be recognised as the UK's leading property company" through becoming a one stop shop for commercial accommodation and property related services for its customers. In this way Land Securities aims to achieve its objective of creating sustainable returns for its owners - the shareholders.
Success in the property market inevitably requires large sums of money for investment, to buy land and develop buildings. In 2003 Land Securities had an investment portfolio of over 259 properties and a £2.2 billion development programme with over 30 development projects either underway or being planned. The company owns or manages over 10 million square metres of property - the equivalent of over 1,500 football pitches - and has both private and public sector customers.
The property market is particularly sensitive to external influences; these can be categorised using SLEPT analysis (Social, Legal, Economic, Political and Technological factors):
Social factors: demographic factors affect the number of families in the UK and demand for housing whilst changes in shopping and eating out patterns affect where Land Securities' customers such as hotels, shops, cafés and supermarkets want to locate.
Legal factors: factors such as the willingness of local councils to give planning permission and government building regulations affect how and where Land Securities can develop property.
Economic factors: factors such as interest rates, inflation and national income affect demand for property. For example, if the economy is booming, firms will often want bigger premises leading to more demand and higher purchase prices, rentals and asset values.
Political factors: government policy such as the desire by the government to regenerate city areas will affect the subsidies available and the tax rates.
Technological factors: developments in technology will affect the design and look of properties as well as the costs of building and maintenance.
To succeed Land Securities must forecast external changes and plan accordingly.