CONSTRUCTION and property firm Henry Boot hopes to start work on a scheme to revive part of the former Terry’s Chocolate Factory in York next year.
Henry Boot revealed that it had entered 2015 in “great shape” following a healthy rise in profits last year, which it described as its best financial result since the downturn in 2007.
The Sheffield-based group said trading across all parts of the business was very encouraging in 2014, as the UK economy steadily recovered.
It said strategic land markets also remained very buoyant last year, as UK house builders continued to restock their land banks.
Chairman John Brown said Henry Boot had a portfolio of high quality opportunities to deliver growing shareholder returns.
He said: “The 2015 financial year has started positively.
“In the shorter term, we remain confident that prevailing economic and market conditions will allow us to deliver growing returns through 2015.
“In the longer term, we continue to identify and acquire numerous valuable opportunities to enable us to deliver our strategic goal, well into the future.”
Pre-tax profits rose 54 per cent to £28.3m in the year to December 31.
John Sutcliffe, the group finance director, said the improved performance was due to “a lot of hard work” that had been carried out in the previous three or four years.
He said: “It feels like it’s a sensible level of recovery, which is sustainable... people are not stupidly leveraging up.”
However, Henry Boot experienced delays in obtaining planning permission on a number of projects, including the former Terry’s Chocolate Factory, where heads of terms have been agreed for the sale of one of the listed buildings to a care home operator, and with a residential developer for the conversion of the main listed factory building into apartments.
The statement added: “It is anticipated that the outstanding planning issues will be resolved in the first half of 2015.
“We also suffered a setback on our 56 acre mixed-use development in Skipton, North Yorkshire, with the refusal of planning permission for a foodstore and employment scheme. However, negotiations with planners are continuing to agree an acceptable development plan which we expect to be residential and employment based.”
Mr Sutcliffe said that Henry Boot hoped to start work on the former Terry’s site by early 2016, provided the company was successful with its planning applications.
He added: “These are in with York (City Council) at the moment.”
Analysts at Investec said Henry Boot had delivered strong final results.
“We believe the business remains very well positioned,” the note from Investec added.