One of the biggest property investors and land management firms in Gloucestershire has revealed a £20.5 million profit after tax, despite the pandemic.
Robert Hitchins, which employs 50 staff, said despite the arrival of Covid-19 bringing ‘an abrupt halt’ to enquiries for commercial property, it had produced profit after tax of £20.5 million, compared to £10.3 million last year.
And that is despite turnover falling from £61.2 million to £48.7 million for the year ending March 2020, according to its just published annual accounts.
It is a story of success ‘underpinned by a large sale of land to a national house builder along with two smaller land parcels on services sites’, with the Boddington-based business still leaving itself with plenty of reasons to remain optimistic for the year ahead.
Managing director, Jeremy Hitchins, said: ‘The company has continued to develop its business and trade profitably following the year end.
‘The covid-19 pandemic broke at the end of the financial year and therefore had little impact on the revenue side of the business.
‘The company took cautious approach to valuing its property and development stock at year end, but the market remains optimistic about the future demand of housing.’
Within Gloucestershire the company’s most high profile development currently is the £60 million factory outlet and garden centre at Ashchurch, a 23-hectare site on the A46 off Junction 9 of the M5, expected to generate up to 1,000 jobs on completion and more than 200 during construction.
It is a project backed by the mighty GFirst LEP, local enterprise partnership, which sees the development of the motorway junctions in the county as key to its economic success.
Just north of Gloucester, its mixed-use scheme at Innsworth which includes 1,300 homes is also expected to create hundreds of jobs.
As far as the commercial property side of the business goes, Robert Hitchins believes it is ‘well placed to be able to meet the new demand as the economy recovers and tenants reassess their property needs’.
Although Covid-19 continues to be a major factor, the ‘principal risk’ facing the business remains that old enemy of every developer, ‘a delay in time in the achievement of planning’.
‘The company has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic well. While the ongoing situation is clearly causing significant uncertainty in the wider economy, construction is likely to lead the economy out of the recession and the company is well placed to take advantage of opportunities that arise,’ said Mr Hitchins.
‘Rental collection has been steady at 98 per cent throughout the pandemic, a remarkable achievement.’
By Andrew Merrell
Friday 08 January 2021
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