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April 2009

Connells' delight at profit

THE Connells Group last year overcame the vagaries of the current housing market slump to post a pre-tax profit of £37 million.

“The £37 million profit is from the whole of our business,” explained Group Chairman Stephen Shipperley. “If you were to exclude the profit we made from the sale of our Rightmove shares and one-off profits of a non-trading nature, then the profit figure would still be over £10 million.”

Mr Shipperley stressed that the £10.4 million trading profit figure quoted — which compares to £59.7 million in 2007 — is after the deduction of all costs and provisions relating to measures such as branch closures and staff redundancy costs which Connells made during 2008. “After adjusting for non-trading costs, our underlying Group operating profit was £24 million,” he said. We closed some branches — 25 in total — but only did so as a last resort. Maintaining and, in due course, strengthening our branch network is a key part of our strategy for the future. While I am clearly disappointed that our results have declined for the first time in eight years, I am also very proud that we managed to achieve over £37 million profit in what were undoubtedly the most difficult trading conditions I can ever recall.”

Meanwhile, Countrywide, the only UK network bigger than Connells, reported a loss, while LSL Property Services saw their profits halved and Savills’ record profit in 2007 turned into a £7.7 million loss last year.

Mike Goodman’s City column >>