LSL Property Services - parent company of Your Move, Reeds Rains and Marsh & Parsons - has reported record figures as its growth policy swings towards financial services.
Revenue in the first half of the year was £166.5m, some 45 per cent higher than a year ago; underlying operating profit was £27.3m, slightly ahead of 2020. Critically, pre-tax profit was £25.5m whereas a year ago it was just £2m.
LSL operates a network of 226 owned and 130 franchised estate agency branches in total. However the agency operation now takes second place to financial services in its growth strategy, the company says.
Even so, the agency team increased market share in core catchment areas; its underlying operating profit was £12.5 - five times the 2020 figure, which was hit by Covid-related costs.
Group chief executive David Stewart says: "LSL performed strongly in the first half of 2021, as we took advantage of favourable market conditions whilst making significant progress in executing our strategy, which places Financial Services at the forefront, as described at the time of publishing our 2020 results.
"The investments we are making in technology and Financial Services will deliver tangible benefits from 2022 and we are confident they will generate substantial value for shareholders in the medium term. The opportunities for new value-add services in Surveying and Valuation Services further underpin our future growth, while we continue to perform well and take market share in Estate Agency.
"Our strategic progress also included the disposal of our non-core investments in LMS and TM Group, for a combined £41m, as we focus both management time and capital on activities offering the best long-term return to shareholders.
“These successful divestments mean we have a very strong balance sheet, including cash resources of around £43m at 31 July 2021, positioning us to make further investments to secure our strategy. We continue to add depth to the management team and have made a number of senior appointments. This will support our strategic delivery and our ability to drive performance improvements from the business.
"The Group's results in the first half position us well for meeting the Board's expectations for 2021, and we look forward to delivering further organic and acquisitive growth in the coming years."