Hunters’ figures for the six months to the end of June show small rises in income and turnover but a substantial drop in pre-tax profits, while the group has emphasised its growing mix of online and traditional services to sellers and buyers.
“This half year we are pleased to report our continued development of online capabilities, including online booking of valuations and our vendor portals, allowing customers to track their property transactions 24/7” says chairman Kevin Hollinrake - who remains in his post at the top of the agency business he founded, as well as being a Conservative MP.
In his trading statement he says: “Our strategy combines leading online technologies with genuine local area expertise. ...Our web users increased by 21 per cent in the period to July against the same period last year and our Customer Service Rating to June rose to 96 per cent keeping us significantly ahead of the 2015 Property Academy Survey which puts the national average at 73 per cent.”
Network income in the six months to the end of June grew by four per cent to £17.6m and 24 new branches joined the network including Besley Hill, a 15 office network in and around Bristol. The network is now 206 branches, of which 195 are franchised.
But pre-tax profit dropped massively - down from £389,000 this time last year to £191,000 now, a fall of 51 per cent.
The trading statement says: “Caution has crept into the market place since the triggering of Article 50 and an element of expected uncertainty as a result of the Brexit negotiations, as well as the proposal to ban unfair tenant fees. We do not expect either of these events to conclude this year and our balance between franchising, sales and lettings and geographical mix allows us to mitigate against these risks."
Earlier this week Hollinrake led a debate in Parliament about letting agency fees.