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Stewarding The Crown Estate for Queen and Country

Alison Nimmo is in the unique position of effectively having Her Majesty The Queen as her boss in what is widely described as the “best job in property.”

Ms Nimmo is in charge of managing and controlling the £13bn The Crown Estate where she is responsible for generating income for HM Treasury from the vast estate.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, she says that there is “never a dull day in The Crown Estate” and praises the fact that they “don’t have shareholders breathing down our neck.”

Instead of shareholders, The Crown Estate answers to the Treasury who she describes as “tough taskmasters and we take great professional pride in trying to outperform the market every year.”

Previously, Ms Nimmo was one of eight directors responsible for delivering the London 2012 Olympic Games. She worked 15 hour days for six months. Before that, she helped rebuild Manchester City centre after the IRA bomb attack in 1996. She believes that those experiences have fueled her desire to make a change to peoples lives.”

Since coming to the post five years ago, The Crown Estate’s portfolio value has jumped increasingly. Gaining £1bn every year and going from £8.1bn to £13.1bn.

The Crown Estate was founded in 1961 to manage property and land on behalf of the Queen. It is now one of the United Kingdom’s largest property owners with a portfolio of about 8.1 billion pounds. Yet The Crown Estate, just like the Crown Jewels, is not the private property of the Monarch. While they are passed down with the accession of the throne, the reigning monarch cannot sell, collect revenues, or debts, from the estate. That power lies with the de facto authority of Parliament.

Similarly, The Crown Estate is not tasked with generating income for The Royal Family. Their remit is to generate returns for HM Treasury, of which all annual profit is returned to. From this, the Sovereign Grant is paid to The Queen.

Reflecting on the five years Ms Nimmo has held the post, she says that “We’ve done a lot in those five and a half years. We’ve been transforming the organisation for a while, and my role just to come in and accelerate that.”

The company has just opened a new £140m shopping centre in Northamptonshire as well as also revamping the Westgate Shopping Centre in Oxford. The regional portfolio is valued at £2.4bn, and they’ve got one million sq ft of retail space under construction throughout the UK.

The Crown Estate owns a large rural Portfolio of around 144,000 hectares of farms, forests and minerals. The estate stretches from Urban to Rural and even the sea. The estate owns 55% of the UK’s seashore and nearly all of the UK’s seabed. They own shopping centres, retail parks, wind farms and numerous other ventures.

The varied assets the Estate holds is a challenge, especially when you need to maximise profits. Ms Nimmo says: “We’re thinking long term stewardship, but that doesn’t mean we’re not commercial and entrepreneurial, and smart in the way we do things.”

Ms Nimmo is aware of the vast enormity and importance of managing the assets of The Crown Estate, which gives The Queen 25% of the yearly revenue. “It’s a job to be taken seriously – whoever the assets belong to, they’re very precious assets. Regent Street is the backbone of the West End; we own half the foreshore across the UK – that’s essentially everyone’s favourite beach.”

For more information on The Crown Estate, click here to be redirected to their website.

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