Who are British Land Co plc?

by Josh Biggs in Business on 31st August 2020

British Land Co plc is a real estate company that owns, develops, finances, and manages a commercial property portfolio focused on the retail locations across London and the UK offices. British Land Co plc builds and operates locations for people to shop, live, and work in. the segments of the company include Canada Water, retail and leisure, offices and residential, and some others that are unallocated. The main sectors are Canada Water, retail, and offices.

British Land Co plc invests through joint ventures as well as directly, in the freehold as well as income-producing commercial properties to expand their potential and growth. The company develops, trades, and finances the properties.


British Land Co plc is located in the York House, London, United Kingdom.


The British Land Co plc was established as a subsidiary of the National Freehold Land Society in 1856.


The company was founded by two key architects of the freehold land movement John Bright and Richard Cobden. Both architects were supporting a movement to expand enfranchisement.

Company portfolio:

The company portfolio includes retail superstores, offices, shopping centers, industrial and distribution spaces, and leisure.

  • Commercial property portfolio: Focuses on retail locations across London and the UK.
  • Retail and leisure: Focus on local and regional multi-let assets

The retail sector consists of leisure, while the office sector consists of residential.

51% of the company portfolio accounts for office space, supermarkets account for 20%, and the shopping centers make up another 22% of the total company assets.


The British Land Co plc drives on the opportunistic yet risk-averse strategy that leads it to achieve long-term growth in the value of shareholder by several key points:

  • Focusing on key assets in the retail and office sectors;
  • Investing exceptionally in the long run with the potential stipulation, growth potential, and long lease description;
  • Developing and managing activities to enhance the property returns; and
  • Considering joint ventures and optimal financing to maximize the returns of equity.

The core of higher returns if resilience, regarding both financing as well as business organization to take full advantage of property market shifting.


The British Land plc is ranked the second-largest real estate company in the UK, after Landsec plc. The company-owned portfolio of the British Land plc was valued at approximately £9.4 billion by the end of 2002. It includes most of the City financial district of London generating over £477 million of rents.

Other assets of the company include £1.56 billion holdings through combined investments with several other companies including the GUP department store group and Sainsbury and Tesco supermarket companies. These combined investments particularly form leaseback and purchase agreements. However, the portfolio of British Land Co includes approximately all Broadgate retail complexes and offices in London. 

Before scaling back the geographical focus to Ireland and the United Kingdom, the company represented in several international markets including The Netherlands, United States, France, Sweden, Belgium, and Australia. 

Half of the real estate holdings of the company lie in London, while the remaining ones are present 11% in Southeastern England and 21% in Northern England.

The long-leading Chairman and CEO of the company John Ritblat split his functions in 2002 under pressure to clarify his progression plan at British Land Co. while his son who had been serving the company as executive director since the late 1980s, Nick Ritblat, succeeded John to become the CEO of the company.


British Land Co plc was originated in the mid of the 19th century, but until 1970, when John Ritblat arrived as the CEO and Chairman of the company, British Land was called a small-sized and sleepy property group with just £27 million assets. As John Ritblat arrived, the company stepped towards development. However, a brief timeline of the company is given below: 

In 1849, Richard Cobden, John Bright, and Josiah Walmsley found the National Freehold Society to restrict the circumventing by choosing the landholders. By 1856, British Land Co plc was founded as the legitimate holder of the properties of society. In 1878, British Land Co became an independent company by paying its debt off to the National Freehold Society. After a long time of steady growth, Neville Conrad and John Ritblat in 1959, established a property agency with the name of Conrad Ritblat. Later, Union Property Company acquired this agency. By 1970, John Ritblat was appointed as the managing director and chairman of British Land as the company acquired Union Property in an avert takeover. 

In 1971, the property assets of the company reached the triple value i.e. £78 million by the acquisition of plantation house control. By the late 1970s, British Land built an international portfolio of property investment and the portfolio of the company topped £250 million.

By 1990, British Land has started acquiring retail properties and supermarkets, and reached to combined investment agreements with Gateway and Sainsbury. In 1994, the company started to acquire the Broadgate office complex across London. By 1996, British Land Co had formed a joint property venture with Tesco while with GUS, a joint property venture had formed until the very next year i.e. 1997

In 1999, British Land completely acquired Broadgate, while Meadowhall shopping complex located in Sheffield was acquired specifically for £1.17 billion. In 2000, the company launched a Liberty international takeover attempt that failed to work. In 2002, British Land Co plc announced to split the positions of CEO and Chairman following the retirement of Ritblat in 2003.


The main projects of the company include the following:

  • 5 Broadgate
  • 122 Leadenhall Street, inaugurated in July of 2014
  • 4 Kingdom Street located at Paddington
  • Blossom Street and Norton Folgate
  • Harmsworth Quays
  • Surrey Quays Shopping center


The real estate investment company British Land Co plc owns, finances, develops and manages the commercial properties. British Land particularly focuses on high-quality retail locations in London and the United Kingdom. It was found in 1856 and the headquarter is located in London, UK.

The company portfolio of the property consists of superstores, retail parks, department stores, shopping centers, offices, and residential. The company portfolio includes properties held through combined agreements as well as directly owned properties.

Categories: Business