Property developer reports record profits

S Harrison’s development director, David Clancy, chairman Martyn Harrison and managing director Ann Scott.

Property and development company S Harrison has reported record profits for 2018.

With low gearing, a strong balance sheet and significant cash reserves, chairman Martyn Harrison says the company is “excellently placed” to build further on its success, focusing on off market opportunities across Yorkshire and beyond.

In the year to 31 December 2018 the group delivered profits before tax of £12.4m (2017: £4.7m) on a turnover of £47.07m (2017: £29.2m).

At the end of the year net assets totalled £55.9m (2017: £46.0m) of which £16.81m (2017: £7.3m) was held in cash.

“By any standards that is an excellent achievement,” said Harrison.

But, he says, it is the long-term performance of the group, now in its 67th year, that is “the most pleasing factor”.

“Despite a record profit performance in 2018, what pleases me more is the longer view. Because development is a business with peaks and troughs, a more important measure of success is the group’s consistency of profit performance over time. Taking a rolling three year perspective to level out those peaks and troughs, the company continues to show sustained and impressive growth.”

In 2018 a significant proportion of S Harrison’s schemes focused on the hotel and student accommodation sectors with major schemes delivered for Leeds University, Hotel du Vin in Stratford and Travelodge in Lincoln.

MD Ann Scott expects that emphasis to continue in 2019 and beyond.

She said: “But, our strength in other sectors – private and social housing, office, retail and light industrial – enables us to capitalise on other opportunities when they arise, deploying our extensive cash reserves to kick-start schemes.”

S Harrison currently has a number of developments in progress across Yorkshire and beyond.

A new Lidl store in York is scheduled for completion this year, as is the landmark Grade A Buchan House in the heart of Edinburgh which Harrison is converting into a prestige 72 bed hotel for Malmaison.  In Whitby, S Harrison is working with Thirteen Group company Tees Valley Housing to deliver 190 new homes for sale or rent.  On an adjacent site at High Stakesby, S Harrison is looking to bring forward further homes for private sale.

In Leeds, S Harrison recently submitted a planning application for 322 private rented sector homes, a gym, café and commercial space at the city’s East Street gateway site.  In Scotland, the company also owns a further four prominent sites in Edinburgh and Leith.

Looking ahead, Harrison said: “2019 and beyond will see us retain our focus on identifying off-market opportunities. Our independence, cash reserves and sound financial standing allow us to move quickly and decisively, often bringing to fruition schemes where others have seen no potential, or where others have tried and stalled.

“With that flexibility, and the breadth of our market experience developed over 66 years, we focus on markets that are most vibrant.  We apply our stringent cost-control disciplines and our realistic expectations to ensure that we bring forward and develop schemes which are deliverable and profitable for all involved. It is that combination, I believe, of financial stringency, market understanding and development insight that makes us so attractive as a partner to the blue-chip companies with whom increasingly we work.”