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Belvoir Group PLC (BLV)

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Thursday 28 January, 2021

Belvoir Group PLC

Trading Update - Ahead of Expectations

RNS Number : 1186N
Belvoir Group PLC
28 January 2021
 

This announcement contains inside information.  

 

28 January 2021

                                                                     

BELVOIR!
 


BELVOIR GROUP PLC

(the "Company" or "Belvoir" or "Group")

 

Pre-Close Trading Update

 

Trading Ahead of Expectations

 

Belvoir Group PLC (AIM:BLV), the UK's largest property franchise, is pleased to provide the following positive Trading Update on the outcome of the financial year ended 31 December 2020, another year of significant growth.

 

The Board is delighted to report that trading in 2020 exceeded its pre-Covid-19 expectations with revenue up 12% to £21.6m* (2019: £19.3m) and consequently the Board expects that the performance for the year, including profit before tax, will be comfortably ahead of management's expectations.

 

The property division achieved revenue growth of 12% of which 10% related to the acquisition of the Lovelle network. The Lovelle network comprises of eleven franchise offices and six corporate-owned offices, which were franchised out between October 2020 and January 2021 as planned.

 

Management service fees ("MSF"), the key underlying return from franchisees, was up 3% to £9.0m* (2019: £8.8m).  The Covid-19 lockdown in Q2 had minimal impact on lettings MSF, which achieved 2% growth in 2020, as a result of the strong recurring nature of this revenue stream.  Meanwhile the significant impact of the lockdown on sales MSF was partially mitigated by the exceptional recovery in the sales market towards the end of H2, which together with the acquisition of the Lovelle estate agency franchise network helped to achieve 9% growth.

 

Revenue from the financial services division increased significantly by 13% to £9.6m* (2019: £8.5m), having grown the network of financial advisers by 22% to 202 (2019: 166).  As with estate agency, the financial services market was adversely impacted by the lockdown of the property sector in Q2, but the shortfall in new mortgage products was mitigated by shifting the focus to remortgages and life protection products.  However, the recovery in the property sales market in H2 provided a significant boost to the mortgage market, resulting in record levels of commission from mortgages in Q4.  

 

The swift and decisive action taken by the Board to reduce its cost base at the start of the pandemic left overheads significantly below the original budget, with some of those savings continuing into 2021.

 

The Group's operating activities are highly cash generative and are underpinned by 60% of gross profit arising from the recurring lettings business.  At the year end net debt had reduced significantly to £3.7m* (2019: £6.9m), despite having deployed £2.0m of cash in January to acquire the Lovelle network.

 

As a result of the strong trading performance in 2020, the Board decided to reimburse staff for the salary sacrifice made during the first lockdown and to fully repay the £260,000 of Government Covid-19 support received in the form of furlough money and Small Business Grants in relation to our corporate-owned offices.  As previously announced, in addition to the 2.0p catch-up dividend paid with the 2020 interim dividend in October in relation to the suspended 2019 final dividend, there will be a further catch-up dividend of 1.3p per share to coincide with the final 2020 dividend. This brings the total reinstated 2019 dividend to 3.3p per share.

 

Dorian Gonsalves, CEO, commented:

"The Group has once again demonstrated the incredible resilience of the Belvoir franchise business model, having consistently reported profit growth for 24 consecutive years, including through the 2007 financial crash, the 2019 ban on tenant fees and now the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.

 

"All parts of the business have performed exceptionally well despite the backdrop of the pandemic.  This has been largely thanks to our employees, who have worked tirelessly to support our networks, and to our property franchisees and financial services advisers, who in turn have continued to deliver the best possible service to their clients.

 

"The Board is mindful that we are not yet through the pandemic and it is too early in 2021 to gauge the medium-term impact of Covid-19.  We are conscious that the stamp duty holiday is due to end on 31 March 2021, however we are confident that having traded successfully through 2020, we are well positioned to deal with any further challenges in 2021.

 

"The Board remains focused on its successful growth strategy that has ensured the expansion and the diversification of the Belvoir Group from a single brand lettings franchise with 162 offices in 2014 to a multi-brand property franchise supporting a network of over 400 individual businesses across five distinct brands, specialising in residential lettings, property sales and property-related financial services."

 

Notice of Full Year Results

 

The audited results for the financial year ended 31 December 2020 will be announced on Monday, 12 April 2021.

 

*unaudited

 

For further details:

 

Belvoir Group PLC

Dorian Gonsalves, Chief Executive Officer

Louise George, Chief Financial Officer

www.belvoirgroup.co m

 

 01476 584900

[email protected]

finnCap

Julian Blunt & Teddy Whiley (Corporate Finance)

Tim Redfern (ECM)

www.finncap.com

 

   +44 (0) 20 7220 0500

Buchanan

Charles Ryland, Kim Looringh-van Beeck & Tilly Abraham

 +44 (0) 20 7466 5000

     

Notes for editors:

About Belvoir Group PLC

Founded in 1995 and listed on AIM in 2012 (BLV.L), Belvoir operates a nationwide property franchise group with 410 offices across five brands specialising in residential lettings, property management, residential sales and property-related financial services. With its Central Office in Grantham, Lincolnshire, the Group manages over 68,550 properties and reported record revenues of £19.3m in 2019 making Belvoir the largest property franchise group in the UK.

For further information, please visit: www.belvoirgroup.com

 

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