‘Year of investment’ sees LSL Property’s profits tumble

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Annual profits at estate agency group LSL Property have almost halved following a “year of investment”.

Pre-tax profits for 2011 fell to £17.6m from £36m a year earlier, when they were boosted by a £10m exceptional gain.

LSL, which moved its head office to Newcastle from York last year but still retains a presence in the region, said it performed strongly despite a market which is seeing “exceptionally low” mortgage approvals.

Revenue increased by six per cent to £218.4m.

The company invested £6.1m in estate agencies as part of a plan to increase market share and profitability in this part of the group.

The acquisition of Marsh & Parsons, which gave rise to exceptional costs of £2.4m, provided LSL with exposure to the prime central London market.

Chairman Roger Matthews said: “In a market where transaction levels remained exceptionally low, 2011 was a year of investment for the future and one of strong progress for the group.

“We will continue to focus on growing market share and profitability in estate agency and on the retention of key lender clients for surveying and valuation services.

“There are also significant opportunities to build on the strong start made in providing surveying services to private buyers and to expand our presence in the prime central London market through Marsh & Parsons.”

He added: “The group is extremely cash generative and has a strong balance sheet. We will retain a prudent approach to leverage, which will place a premium on delivery of organic growth but with a scope for further acquisitions.”