Unite Students

Unite Group Plc
Public (LSE: UTG)
Industry Student accommodation#Off campus residences
Founded 1991
Headquarters Bristol, United Kingdom
Key people
Phil White CBE, (Chairman)
Mark Allan (CEO)
Joe Lister (CFO)
Products Student accommodation (halls of residence)
Services Property investment and development
Revenue £208.8 million (2015)[1]
£229.6 million (2015)[1]
£355.7 million (2015)[1]
Website www.unite-group.co.uk

Unite Students provides Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) across the United Kingdom. ‘Unite Students’ is the trade name for The Unite Group Plc, a London Stock Exchange listed business and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Unite Students is the largest and oldest PBSA provider in the UK.[2] It owns and maintains 130 properties across 23 towns and cities, with the capacity to home over 43,000 students.[3]


A Unite Students facility near Tottenham Hale station

The Unite Group was founded in Bristol in 1991, and remains headquartered in the city.

The business was founded by Nicholas Porter who, aged 21 and following research with the University of the West of England, recognised a growing demand for student accommodation.[4] Unused office buildings in Bristol’s centre were converted into flats, opening to their first students in 1992.

After a period of expansion within Bristol, in 1998 Unite opened its first properties in London. It became a listed company on the Alternative Investment Market the following year.[5]

In 2000 the business moved its share register to the London Stock Exchange, and opened properties in Manchester, Liverpool and Portsmouth.[6]

During the following decade Unite created investment vehicles to secure rapid growth in London, across England and into Scotland. Of these vehicles, The Unite UK Student Accommodation Fund (USAF) is Europe’s largest fund focusing solely on direct-let student accommodation.[7]

In 2006 founder Nicholas Porter announced he was stepping down as Chief Executive. He was replaced at the end of the year by Chief Financial Officer Mark Allan.[8]

Former National Express Chief Executive Phil White CBE became Non-Executive Chairman in May 2009, replacing Geoffrey Maddrell who had previously announced his departure after 10 years in the role.[9]

By 2011 the business had grown to 40,000 beds. It remains the UK’s biggest provider of student accommodation by capacity.[10]

In 2012 it founded charitable trust The Unite Foundation, which provides free accommodation and a cost-of-living allowance to students from “challenging circumstances”.[11]

In April 2014 Unite renamed itself ‘Unite Students’. Simultaneously, it launched its ‘Home for Success’ corporate philosophy; which it describes as its “business purpose”. The Home for Success announcement included a £40m reinvestment of profits into the business and 16 “signature commitments,” all of which relate to an improved student experience.[12]

Leadership and operational structure

The Unite Group is led by a small executive team of Chief Executive Mark Allan, Chief Financial Officer Joe Lister, Managing Director of Property Richard Simpson and Managing Director of Operations Richard Smith.

Unite Students employs over 1,000 people, with about 250 in their central Bristol headquarters and the remainder in the 23 towns and cities in which they operate.

Notable properties


  1. 1 2 3 "Preliminary Results 2015" (PDF). Unite Students. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  2. "Unite snaps up Cordea Savills' £137m student housing portfolio". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  3. "Home". unite-group.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  4. "Nicholas Porter - The Sunday Times". thesundaytimes.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  5. "This week: PNC Tele.com, Unite Group, Axiomlab". This is Money. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  6. "Our story so far". Unite Students. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  7. "Bedell". bedellgroup.com. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  8. "Student digs chief steps down with honours". Property Week. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  9. "Unite Group taps Phil White as new chairman". propertyeu.info. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  10. "Unite Students set for 399-bed Aberdeen development". Property Week. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  11. "About Us". unitefoundation.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  12. "Home for Success". unite-group.co.uk. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  13. "Grand Central". Emporis. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
  14. "Worlds Tallest Student Block Completes In Leeds". Skyscraper News. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  15. "Newham Recorder". 2014-09-18. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
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