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Branch closures and Covid lead to big LSL revenue slump

Revenues have slumped by 18 per cent at LSL Property Services, the corporate which boasts Your Move and Reeds Rains and 10 other brands in its portfolio.

The company blames its own restructuring - which involved many branch closures - as well as the tenant fees ban and Coronavirus. Revenue in the 10 months to the end of October was down from £262.8m in 2019 to £214.3m.

However, the agency group is upbeat about its performance in the second half of 2020 and says it has its largest sales pipeline for a decade, with £24m in sales going through the conveyancing process - that’s a 60 per cent increase on the same time last year.

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But in a trading statement to shareholders the company concedes that the post-lockdown glut of business and the rush to complete before the stamp duty holiday ends are causing pressure: “The very significant increase in house sales agreed following the end of the May lockdown has given rise to significant pressures in parts of the housing chain, notably a market-wide shortage in conveyancing capacity. This has meant that the average time taken to exchange and complete on agreed sales has increased in the market generally.” 

It continues: “There is currently no evidence of a material increase in residential fall-through trends, although the elongation in the time taken to complete may put pressure on this across the market generally. We continue to monitor this closely.”

The statement reveals strong performances by its surveying and mortgage broker divisions.

The number of its financial advisers at the end of October was 2,528, an eight per cent increase year on year, with a substantial pipeline of new advisors; the value of its mortgage completions in the 10 months to October 31 was £25.8 billion, giving the company around nine per cent market share.

David Stewart, group chief executive, tells shareholders: “We look forward to reporting on our full year results in the early part of 2021, when we will also set out details of the progress we have made on implementing our strategy. I would like once again to place on record my thanks to all our staff for their tremendous support they have given LSL this year.”

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