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Henry Boot 2014 results post 54% profit rise

Sheffield-based property company Henry Boot said it continues to spy “numerous valuable opportunities” in the market, after posting a 54 per cent profit increase in its latest accounts.

Pre-tax profit jumped to £28.3m for the year to 31 December 2014, from £18.4m the year before.

Basic earnings per share increased 88 per cent to 16.2p, from 8.6p the year before, while the group’s total dividend increased by 9.8 per cent to 5.6p, compared with 5.1p in 2013.

Henry Boot chairman John Brown said: “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.”

Revenue was down 4.3 per cent to £147.2m, from £153.8m the year before.

But the group said 2013 revenue included “some £20m of one-off revenue transactions at York and Bromley, which were matched by cost of sales”.

Henry Boot’s business is split into land development, property investment and development, and construction.

The company said its strategic land business, Hallam Land, benefited from land investment over the last three to four years.

It said the government’s planning system reforms had been beneficial to the business, including the National Planning Policy Framework’s push to have a five-year land supply, as well as the Help to Buy mortgage scheme.

But Henry Boot said the general election “brings uncertainty” despite all parties stating that a more responsive planning system will be a priority.

“For any strategic land business, a key concern is the degree to which the government extracts value from the grant of planning permission,” the company said.

“While we do not disagree with this in principle, the government needs to ensure they do not make schemes unviable through unrealistic financial demands.”

In property investment and development, Henry Boot said tenant demand, investor appetite and completed development yields improved as the economy recovered, allowing it to progress or commence on 15 projects across the country – eight of which completed during the year.

“This significant increase in development activity also reflects the improvement in occupier confidence and their ability to progress initial interest through to fully financed contractual commitments, particularly in the industrial and leisure sectors.”

The company said Henry Boot Construction exceeded both budgeted turnover and profit for the year.

It added that there had been a “large increase” in private sector workloads with a number of opportunities arising in the industrial, commercial and retail sectors.

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