Colliers CRE reported ‘the tentative signs of a partial thaw’ in the market as it revealed it had suffered a pretax loss of £11.1m last year and scrapped its dividend.
Revenue fell 34% to £78m as a result of the fall in transactions.
Its Spanish business, which it has a 56% stake in, saw a decline in revenues of 20% in the first half of 2008, which accelerated to 44% in the second half of the year.
The company slashed its costs last year by £18m – which included a reduction in its headcount of 150 people, 50 which were lost in the first quarter of this year.
It said that the reductions meant that its cost base for 2009 was ‘materially below 2008 revenues’ and warned that it would ‘continue to monitor closely the group’s costs against revenue and will take further, already identified action, if this becomes necessary’.
In order to improve revenues this year, Colliers said it had appointed a ‘group-wide client services manager’ who will be responsible for the delivery of a three point improvement plan.
The company said that it was forced to renegotiate its £24m loan facility due to expire in March 2012 at a higher cost because the loss recorded by the group meant that a number of covenant tests were waived or suspended in advance.
On the back of the results, Sir John Ritblat, chairman of Colliers, warned that ‘market activity will only improve significantly once credit markets reopen, but there is little sign of this at present.’
Ritblat pointed to the first signs of recovery coming in the auctions: ‘Auction houses are already seeing the return of the more serious investor. With close to zero interest on cash in the bank and an expectation that the market is nearing the bottom, we expect auction houses to do all the business this year.’
He said: ‘I believe that we have done well to act quickly and decisively by reducing costs and reorganising our business to respond to these market conditions. We are now in a position to take full advantage of an upturn in activity when the day arrives, but without having compromised out high service levels to clients.’
Colliers shares rose 3% to 16p following the results.