Countrywide, the UK’s largest integrated property services group, is set to deliver record results for 2014, it announced this morning.
In its trading update ahead of its final results for the year to 31 December 2014, which will be released on 26 February 2015, the group revealed revenues leapt 20% to £702.2m during the year, with the final quarter up 5% to £179.3m.
It stated the delivery of record financial results will be in line with expectations despite a significant slowdown in activity in the housing market in the final quarter of last year.
Home sale exchanges were down 2% in the final quarter, to 16,534. But the full year saw an 11% leap in exchanges to 66,022. The slowdown in the market hit London and premier areas in the South East worst. Exchanges plummeted 11% in the final quarter, compared to the same period in 2013, and growth over the full year was up by only 1% in this key area.
Countrywide said buyers remain cautious, particularly in London, but the Stamp Duty reform should be beneficial to the market in the long term despite introducing more uncertainty in the Greater London area initially.
2014 also saw record results from its lettings business on revenue, profits and margins, while the development of its commercial operations progressed well in 2014 with Lambert Smith Hampton delivering ahead of our expectations.
2014 was a significant year for shareholder returns with total returns of more than £57m.
On the commercial side, Lambert Smith Hampton completed its first full financial year as part of the group with a financial contribution ahead of the original plan. The integration of BTW Shiells has gone well and the group said it saw further opportunities to develop our commercial activities.
In October Countrywide announced a strategic partnership with Hermes Investment Managers to create a UK private rented sector fund. The fund was established with an initial £95m of seed equity and the group anticipates another round of third party fund raising in 2015.
The objective of the fund is to use Countrywide’s platform to deliver strong and stable returns to Institutional Investors in the PRS sector. Countrywide contributed its three seed investments in Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, and the fund has since exchanged on another acquisition.
Alison Platt, chief executive at Countrywide, said: “These results once again underline the resilience we derive from our broadly based business and our ability to deliver strong growth in a challenging market. We are well placed to both take advantage of the sustainable growth in our lettings and commercial business whilst being positioned to lead as the housing sales market recovers.”
Countrywide share fell 2.37% to 421p in early trading.