Rural specialist H&H Group records pre-tax profits of more than £1m

Carlisle-headquartered H&H Group has recorded pre-tax profits of more than £1m in the year ending June 30

Land and rural property specialists the H&H Group has recorded pre-tax profits of more than £1m in the year ending June 30.

The Carlisle-headquartered group operates as a holding company with eight operating companies including Newcastle-based Sutherland & Co, Durham-based H&H Land and Property and Harrison & Hetherington Auctioneers of Carlisle.

It has announced total turnover for the year to June 30 of £14.348m, slightly higher than the previous year, with average share price for the year of £25.73, up £2.

Profits were £1.015m, down on last year’s record of £1.444m.

Chief executive Brian Richardson said: “The year 2012-13 has been a challenging year and demonstrates that no one is immune to the effects of the wider economy.

“Customers have been much more careful and conscious about their spending and this, along with increased costs in areas such as rates and energy has impacted on the financial results.”

With more than 1,000 shareholders and employing 290 staff across the North of England, H&H Group dates back to the late 19th Century.

It owns a range of businesses covering auctioneering, property, financial services and printing.

The livestock auctioneering business Harrison & Hetherington had marginally higher throughput, and turnover was helped by it being a reasonable year for livestock prices.

Carlisle’s Borderway Auction Centre is recognised as one of the leading auction centres in the UK and investment in its facilities continued.

During the year, H&H bought James Sutherland (Auctioneers) Ltd based in Newcastle:

Richardson said: “This is a company which specialises in valuations and online auctions on behalf of accountants and the official receiver.

“In addition to spreading our geographical reach, this purchase has also provided access to an in-depth knowledge of online marketing and auctions, which will be hugely beneficial to the rest of the group.”

The land agency businesses, Durham and Carlisle-based H&H Land and Property and H&H King Estate Agents, both continued to perform well with 2013 seeing improvement in volumes in the housing market, with continued optimism for the future.

Cumbria’s largest independent finance company, H&H Borderway Finance, continued to focus on providing finance for motor vehicles, delivering group profits.

Insurance arm H&H Insurance Brokers, which acquired Brampton-based John Pieri Insurance Services at the end of 2012, has continued to grow.

While the company continues to focus on rural insurance, there has been a significant growth in the commercial division of the business.

One area that suffered from the general lower spending was H&H Reeds Printers. Richardson said: “Like so many other companies, we saw a significant drop-off in orders from the public sector and this, coupled with a difficult economy, has impinged on the profitability of the business.

“However, as confidence returns to the wider economy we are now seeing order levels increasing.

“Meanwhile, auctioneering is at the very core of the H&H Group and the group continues to invest in all its companies, responding to the demands of the marketplace, and taking on new staff at all levels.”

It looks to expand geographically where opportunities arise.

Richardson concluded: “Despite the economy remaining fragile, it is confidence and growth in companies like the H&H Group which are at the heart of local regeneration.

“We have a diverse range of business sectors and all times, the group’s aim is to maximise the potential from each with an eye on the long-term development of the brand.”

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