Matthew Quinn

By Tina Perinotto

25 July 2012 – The Stockland board on Wednesday  championed  retiring managing director Matthew Quinn’s stewardship of the company for its growth to butAustralia’s biggest residential developer. But The Fifth Estate would like to acknowledge his leadership in green buildings and sustainability, through high sustainability goals, and not the least, the achievement last year of Number 1 in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as world’s most sustainable property company.

At home the company was among the first crop to refit its own offices as an uber green environment at Stockland House, or Stockhome as it was affectionately called.

It’s long term sustainability leader until recently, Siobhan Toolhill, did much to propel the company to this leading position and, it was clear, with the full support of Quinn, who took many public opportunities to reinforce that downright logic of a sustainable approach.

There were numerous bows in the company’s sustainability quiver from solar energy atop one shopping centre to encouraging troublesome youths at another to engage in film-making.

Some of the adoption of sustainability was an enforced lesson, but one which Stockland used to creatively inform its future strategies.

The company took on the biggest challenges, some of which caused it a lot of heartache. Biggest of these was the Sandon Point development site near Wollongong on land sacred to Aboriginals, and in a fragile natural landscape that locals pointed out flooded and fractured under pressure from the sea.

Locals fiercely defended the site with achingly long tent embassy occupation and legal challenges.

Toohill told The Fifth Estate in an interview in November 2010 that this jarring experience underpinned the company’s adoption of strong social sustainability principles. Instead of buying land, making plans and then taking on the local residents when they complained, it was so much better to consult first, before the first drawing was made. The strategy makes ultimate marketing and financial sense, and when you think about it, pretty well guarantees a nice catchment of potential future buyers for your product.

Quinn also reined over the introduction of the compact house and land package, with test series of 10 houses of 144 square metres on land 212.5 sq offered for only $269,000 at Craigieburn north of Melbourne. They sold like hotcakes.

It was at the same time that so many people were bemoaning – and still do – the lack of “affordable” houses for people. What they really meant was affordable McMansions.

Subsequent insights revealed that the barrier to more of these smaller houses is often local councils who fear they will do something dreadful to the value of housing in the neighbourhood.

Quinn’s departure comes after a major reshuffle of the company that involved retrenchment of 30 key staff, and the subsequent resignation of Toohill.

Quinn will hang around while Stockland finds a replacement.

“After much consideration I have decided that it is now the right time to step down. I am committed to working with the board and executive team to ensure a smooth transition,” he said in a media statement.

“It has been a privilege to lead Stockland and I am very proud of the legacy I will leave behind.”

The statement continued: “As Stockland will announce its results for FY12 in two weeks, the Board believes it is appropriate to make comment on the expected FY12 result.

“Subject to finalising our audit process, Stockland expects to report earnings per security of 29.3 cents for FY12. This result would be slightly below the guidance provided in May due mainly to one-off restructuring costs which are expected to deliver efficiencies in FY13 and beyond.

“In addition, the group did not acquire as many shares in its buyback program as was assumed in its most recent guidance, and timing of superlot settlements also had a small impact on the expected outcome.”

And on it goes.