Hunters Property Plc (Aim: HUNT), one of the UK’s largest franchised sales and lettings agency businesses, is pleased to provide the following trading update ahead of its final results for the year ended 31 December 2018.
We are pleased to report the Group outperformed the market, increasing network income by 1.4% to £39.4m (2017: £38.9m). Results for 2018 will be broadly in line with expectations. This is even more encouraging considering the challenging conditions in the UK housing market in 2018. According to the Land Registry, completed transactions fell by 11% in the 10 months to October as against the same period in 2017.
During the year our average branch broke through the £200,000 threshold achieving £200,016 (2017: £182,000) an average increase of 10%. New branches joining the network were also, on average, higher turnover and more substantial £186,000 (2017: £173,000). We have completed 13 assisted acquisitions including four in the second half of 2018, a policy that supports our network that we are keen to develop. The network’s lettings revenue grew by 13% in the year to £13 million (2017: £11.5 million) further balancing the business for 2018 as 67% Sales and 33% Lettings (2017: Sales 70%, Lettings 30%).
Whilst we expect 2019 to be no less challenging, we have added two further branches this month and have signed and scheduled a further four by the end of February, which we believe will provide us with the start that puts us on track to meet our expectations for the year. We believe market conditions and government legislation will continue to motivate proven independent operators to become part of a stronger group that can offer training, marketing, technology and significant cost reductions, particularly in terms of portal charges for Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.
We are in a strong financial position to both expand our network and reward shareholders by maintaining the Company’s progressive dividend policy.
Glynis Frew, Chief Executive, said: “We are, once again, pleased with our performance and the progress we are making in adding high quality businesses to our network. We have added 124 branches organically over the last 5 years and we are optimistic that the success of this strategy leaves us well placed.”
The Company expects to announce its full year results on or around the 4 April 2019.