London property giant British Land today announced its chief financial officer Simon Carter would take over from long-running boss Chris Grigg.
Grigg’s plans to retire emerged early in the year but no successor had been appointed until now.
He oversaw 11 years of dramatic change at the group, including its shift away from retail – a move that has shielded the company from the worst of the rout suffered by Hammerson and collapsed rival Intu.
His time in charge saw it invest in Paddington Basin, Broadgate and Regents Place, which offer a mixture of offices and retail.
However, the company is now heavily involved in the office market at a time of huge uncertainty about how much space companies will need in a post-Covid world.
Carter’s biggest role will be wrestling with this issue.
The British Land house view has been that attractive, modern offices like the ones that make up the bulk of its portfolio, will continue to be attractive but a shake-up is inevitable.
British Land has already started launching offices with more flexible space, offering perhaps three year leases rather than 20 years. But there remains a major question over the longer term demand for big corporate offices in city centres as people find working from home is a viable alternative.
Carter has been CFO since returning to the company in May 2018 from stints at Logicor, the business that runs warehouses for Amazon and others, and Quintain Estates. He was finance director at both businesses.
Before leaving, he had been at British Land for more than a decade.
He will be on a salary of £750,000 and the company said his appointment came after a wide search for external and internal candidates. This was thought to have been conducted by search firm Russell Reynolds.
His successor as chief financial officer is yet to be announced.
British Land chairman Tim Score said: “The Board are confident that Simon is the right person to lead British Land forward. He is a proven, growth-orientated business leader with significant Real Estate experience and expertise across various asset classes. We look forward to working with Simon in his new role.”
Score credited Grigg for delivering iconic London buildings and securing a promising site at Canada Water. He also credited him for championing diversity in the industry. Property is famed for being “male, pale and stale”, as highlighted by the notorious President’s Club dinner, but Grigg took a high profile stand for Pride Week and other initiatives.
Carter said: “Like many businesses, we face short-term challenges because of the current covid crisis, and we continue to respond to the longer-term structural changes in the way people are using real estate.
“I am convinced however that this brings opportunity and I am confident that with our expert teams and world class assets we are well placed to continue the evolution of British Land and deliver sustainable value over the long term.”