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Unite boss promises 24-hour staff presence in accommodation after student death

·1-min read
Unite said it was eyeing the London market as it ramps up expansion plans. (Unite Students)
Unite said it was eyeing the London market as it ramps up expansion plans. (Unite Students)

The boss of Unite Group has promised a physical staff presence in all its student halls following the death of a resident who sustained serious neck injuries.

Unite boss Richard Smith told the Standard: “The incident was unprecedented in our business and obviously incredibly tragic.”

Safety and security is one of the hallmarks of our offer.

“From September every single one of our properties will have a physical presence from staff 24 hours a day.”

Sabita Thanwani, a student at City, University of London, died in March in Arbour House in Clerkenwell.

Her boyfriend Maher Maaroufe was arrested by officers on suspicion of murder and assault on police.

The announcement comes after the business posted a more than doubling of pre-tax profits to £334 million after students returned to campuses following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions. The company announced a dividend of 11p per share.

Unite said it was eyeing the London market as it ramps up expansion plans.

Smith said: “London is a really important market for us – it’s probably the most under-supplied market in the UK.

“A large part of our development pipeline is for London.”

Smith said debt had been the biggest cost increase to the firm amid rising interest rates. 25% of the company’s debt is not set at fixed rates.

Unite’s shares fell 5.7% after market is opened this morning. The company said it was confident of delivering accommodation occupancy of 97% with rental growth of between 3.5% and 4% despite rampant inflation and a fall in real wages.

“Students are price-conscious but they’re also aware of needing to be in an environment that supports their needs -- our pricing is comparable and often cheaper,” Smith said.

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