Making our business sustainable in every sense is a key objective for Scentre Group, as our industry continuously transforms. A sustainable business model will ensure we are well-positioned to keep creating shared value for all our stakeholders.
As each year passes, I am proud to see that at Scentre Group we are truly defined by our purpose – of creating extraordinary places, connecting and enriching communities. Our purpose underpins all our actions, and is the driving force behind the Group’s business strategy and its execution at all levels of our organisation.
Today more than ever, sustainability is truly embedded in our DNA.
While we’ve continued to evolve the framework that defines our sustainability philosophy, our broad approach, and the many sustainable practices themselves have been consistent over time.
The long-standing objective for Scentre Group has been to operate safely and efficiently, conserve energy, produce less waste, utilise technology and design to create extraordinary centres for our communities, and to engage meaningfully with all our stakeholders.
"Our areas of focus continue to be across four key pillars which form our sustainability framework: community, people, economic performance and environmental impact."
In each of these areas substantial progress has been made, contributing to the long-term viability of our business and its operations.
We completed a number of significant projects during the year that have each made unique contributions to their communities.
At Westfield Whitford City we opened a new dining, entertainment and leisure precinct, creating a new recreational destination for Perth’s northern beaches, and started similar projects at Plenty Valley in Melbourne and Tea Tree Plaza in Adelaide. Our major construction projects underway during the year include the ‘greenfield’ development at Westfield Coomera, a major redevelopment at Carousel in Perth and Newmarket in Auckland – each of which provide a myriad of opportunities to deliver increasingly sustainable buildings that can encompass new materials, improved building management systems and infrastructure, more efficient construction and waste practices and ever-evolving safety processes.
"Scentre Group’s development pipeline remains in excess of $3 billion and supports our strategic objective of owning and operating the highest quality retail assets in Australia and New Zealand, contributing to our economic performance, which continues to generate excellent financial returns for our security-holders."
Our strong financial results for 2017 were underpinned by growth in funds from operations, customer visitation and retailer demand. We delivered a profit of $4.2 billion including $3.2 billion in property revaluations, and since our establishment in 2014 have grown the value of our portfolio by more than 30%.
Our ongoing focus on our people ensures we remain a place where talent can thrive. For the first time our percentage of female employees was higher than our male employees, increasing from 49% to 53% year-on-year. Our diversity and inclusion strategies continue to drive outcomes like this, along with an emphasis on female professional development, progress in our plans and policies around LGBTI considerations, mental health, domestic and family violence and our Reconciliation Action Plan commitments for reducing the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The success of our approach to our internal stakeholders can be seen in our engagement score, which this year has grown to 88%, putting us in the top 2% of companies globally.
As always the engagement with our communities has formed a core part of the activities undertaken at every Westfield centre, and our evolved framework for the coming year will see the implementation of a multi-layer initiative that includes recognising and celebrating important local people, groups and programs across each of our communities throughout Australia and New Zealand.
We’re also committed to delivering our community engagement through our centres’ activities and unique partnerships; the volunteering and workplace giving program that allows our people to make direct contributions to the community and the strategic partnerships we hold at an organisation level.
All this collectively represents the issues that are critical to our business, and our focus on their successful management will ensure the Board of Directors and I are able to sustain the long-term viability of Scentre Group, delivering growth that leaves a positive legacy and genuine value for all our stakeholders.