[H]&H Group plc has published its accounts for the year to 30th June 2017, which show a profit before tax of £682,000, similar to the £712,000 for the previous year. Net assets for the business were £17.75 million at the year end, and a final dividend has been recommended of 27p, making a total of 35p for the full year.
These results include a full year of trading for two businesses which were acquired by H&H Group plc in 2015. These are the marts at Newtown St Boswells and Wooler, as well as the expanded Estate Agency business, incorporating Michael CL Hodgson in south Cumbria, which were taken over in December 2015.
Commenting on the results, Brian Richardson, Chief Executive of H&H Group plc, said: “In the four areas we operate; livestock auctioneering and marketing; land agency and property sales/letting; insurance; and print, we have had to work hard against a sluggish economic environment and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. This is a solid set of results in what are some challenging markets and it is testament to the H&H staff that we continue to see development across our customer base.
“Through our nine mart sites and on-farm trading, Harrison & Hetherington has, for the first time, traded over £170 million worth of livestock. Helped by a weak pound, supporting exports and making imports more expensive, livestock prices have been stable in the year. Harrison & Hetherington continue to develop its sites and geographical coverage, and the business is also looking to develop strategic alliances in the meat and meat-processing sectors.
“Our land agency business H&H Land and Property, has continued to develop its geographical coverage with the opening of a new office at Newtown St Boswells and further development at Kendal. Whilst there is some comfort from Government that farming support will continue at present levels until 2022, the uncertainty over how this money will be spent is potentially causing farmers to delay decisions on future strategy and investment. This is likely to remain the case until the Brexit negotiations are resolved.
“Because of the wider market conditions and more people staying and improving their present homes, the UK Estate Agency sector has seen a reduced number of properties coming to the market. Both Michael CL Hodgson and H&H King have worked hard to lead the way with customer service and innovative marketing. Against this testing background, it’s good to see our market share improve and our extended coverage through four branches being so well received.
“A new marketing focus on farm Insurance has been launched by H&H Insurance Brokers Ltd and a clear focus on this sector will continue to reinforce our expertise. We have continued to develop customer service this year and received the Gold Standard from our monitoring service, Feefo. In addition we have 98% of claims paid, and this year we will celebrate 30 years of expertise within this industry.
“Whilst our print business, H&H Reed Printers Ltd, continues to operate in a very competitive market, progress has been made in the year to improve profitability. To further develop our web-based sales and extend the areas in which we operate online in the most cost-effective manner, we have also agreed a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with UCLAN.
“During the last twelve months there has also been development of our property interests in both Carlisle and Edinburgh. The Rosehill development project, on the site of the old car park, is now being developed to deliver a new food hall for Pioneer, along with 22,000 square feet of business units and car parking for Rosehill users. The building work on this £5 million project is progressing well and the completed site is due to open in the second half of 2018.
“As we look to the future, the broader economy in which we operate is uncertain, but given that we are unable to directly influence this, our aim is to continue to focus on developing our businesses, backed by good products and excellent customer service.”