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Profits tumble by 28% at Arun Estates as sales fall away in ‘difficult market’

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Profit at Arun Estates, which runs over 100 estate agency branches under a number of different brands in the south east, dropped by 28% in 2017.

Pre-tax profit for the year to September 31 slid to £13.8m, down from just under £19.3m in 2016.

Turnover also dropped, down 7.4% to £63.3m.

The results meant that the company’s pre-tax profit margin stayed almost exactly the same, at 28.1% in 2017, as compared to 28.2% in 2016.

Arun Estates, which operates brands including Ward & Partners, Cubitt & West, Douglas Allen, Pittis, and the recently created hub business Hadleys London, declared its performance in 2017 “satisfactory”.

In a business review as part of its annual accounts, lodged at Companies House, the company said it had predicted a difficult market and pointed to a combination of political uncertainty and tax changes that it said had hindered the housing market and led to a decrease in house sales in the estate agency side of the business.

Nonetheless, it said it had maintained fees at a “consistent level”.

It added: “Our ability to list properties remains strong with only a very small decrease in success rates, despite increased competition.”

It was better news on the lettings side of the business, where turnover increased by 13% over the previous year, with resultant profits increasing by 26%.

Its lettings portfolio now stands at a “record level”, according to the report.

It said: “Despite the forthcoming legislative changes with tenant fees we are expecting further advances in this area over this next financial period.”

Meanwhile, Arun Estates’ financial services arm also performed well, with an 8% increase in turnover.

Employees were also given increased salary packages “despite the market limiting their commission earning ability in some areas”, thanks to the firm’s ability to maintain operating costs at 2016 levels by “streamlining” of some aspects of the business.

The highest paid director in the business — who is not identified — received remuneration of just over £1.1m during the year, a pay increase of £175,000 on the year before.

The average number of staff employed at the company during the year was 1,036 — exactly the same number as in the previous year.

Arun Estates declared an interim dividend of £4m during the year and the remaining profit will be transferred into reserves.

It also made £93,000 in donations to charity.

Paul Rooney founded Arun Estates in 1991 when he expanded his Rooney & Co business by mounting a bid for six independent estate agencies in the south east, owned by insurance company Prudential.

In 1993, he acquired Douglas Allen Spiro in east London and Essex.

More recently, the company announced the launch of Hadleys London, in Keston near Croydon, a hub-based business that charges from £1,000 upfront.

Under managing director David Lench, the company has publicly rejected offering any online strategy on the basis that Lench cannot see how it can make any money.

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Source:: Profits tumble by 28% at Arun Estates as sales fall away in ‘difficult market’