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Belvoir Group PLC (BLV)

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Wednesday 02 December, 2020

Belvoir Group PLC

Trading Update

RNS Number : 1874H
Belvoir Group PLC
02 December 2020
 

This announcement is deemed to constitute inside information stipulated under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014

 

 

2 December 2020

 

BELVOIR!
 


BELVOIR GROUP PLC

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

 

Trading Update

Trading ahead of pre-Covid expectations

 

 

Belvoir Group PLC (AIM:BLV), the UK's largest property franchise, is pleased to provide the following encouraging trading update.

 

The Board is delighted to report that trading in the ten months to the end of October 2020 was ahead of its pre-Covid expectations with both the property and the financial services divisions achieving year on year growth in gross profit of 10% and 11% respectively.

 

Management services fee income (MSF) from lettings was up on 2019 and MSF from sales was level, with the impact of Covid lockdown in Q2 being mitigated by the acquisition of the Lovelle estate agency franchise network and the strong recovery in the sales market in H2. The pipeline of agreed house sales is significantly ahead of the previous record level so, whilst the pipeline is slower to process than usual, franchisees are expected to report strong sales revenue during the last two months of the year.

 

The financial services division goes from strength to strength with a 18% increase in the adviser network since the start of the year.  As with the property sales market, the pipeline of written mortgages is at a record level of which a significant proportion is expected to convert to banked income in the remainder of 2020.

 

The Group has continued to benefit from the prompt action taken to reduce its cost base at the start of the pandemic, such that overheads are now significantly below the original budget.  Consequently, the Board expects that the performance for the year, in terms of profit before tax, will be comfortably ahead of management's expectations.

 

The Group's operating activities are highly cash generative and are underpinned by 62% of gross profit arising from the recurring lettings business.  Net debt is currently down to £4.3m (31 December 2019: £6.9m) having deployed £2.0m of cash in January to acquire the Lovelle network and deferred payment of £0.5m VAT.

 

During the UK's first period of lockdown the Belvoir Board and all employees earning over £25,000 took a temporary pay reduction of between 20% and 30%, depending on seniority; these reductions were reversed in July 2020. In addition, the Group benefitted from £250,000 of Government Covid support in the form of furlough money and Small Business Grants in relation to our corporate-owned offices.  Given the unprecedented uncertainty at that time, the Board was extremely grateful to all employees for the sacrifices made and to the Government for its support; these measures certainly enabled the Group to retain staff during this very difficult period. The Board is also mindful of the short-term boost to the property sector from the Government's decision to reduce stamp duty until 31 March 2021. 

 

Given the Group's continued resilient trading and in anticipation of a strong end to the year the Board has decided to reimburse staff in full for the salaries which were sacrificed and to repay the Government in full the Covid furlough monies and grants received.

 

The Board is also now pleased to announce that it intends to pay a further catch-up dividend of 1.3p per share to coincide with the final 2020 dividend. This additional dividend represents the last payment in respect of the final dividend for 2019 which was suspended in March 2020 and brings the total reinstated 2019 dividend to 3.3p per share.

 

Dorian Gonsalves, CEO, commented:

"This year has demonstrated beyond doubt the incredible resilience of our franchise business model.  In what has been a rollercoaster of a year for Belvoir, the Group has performed well across both divisions.  I am immensely grateful to our all our employees who have worked tirelessly to support our networks of property franchisees and financial service advisers through this challenging period.

 

"I am delighted that we are in a position to be able to reimburse staff for their earlier sacrifice, to repay the Government Covid subsidies and to make good the missed 2019 dividend for shareholders.  The Board appreciates that we are not through the pandemic and the longer term economic impact is uncertain.  2021 will present further challenges, however, we will start the year with strong sales and financial services pipelines, and we have confidence in our business model and the entrepreneurial spirit of our franchisees and advisers to continue to deliver shareholder value."

 

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 396 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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