GVA Midlands office supports leap in profit

GVA published its annual Trading Report this week, together with its financial results for the year ending Apr 2013. It highlights a major jump in profit, coupled with a significant reduction in net debt. GVA’s Midlands operation, run out of its Birmingham office, made a major contribution to the company’s bottom line.

Turnover for the year delivered a sizable profit before tax of £7.8 million, up £7.7 million on the previous year as it saw the benefit of the previous year’s shareholder debt for equity swap. GVA further reduced its bank debt by £9.4 million during the year to £7 million ensuring a very strong balance sheet.

During a year in which it recorded a total turnover for the overall business of £147.3 million, up from £140.4 million on the previous year (5% increase), the company performed well under challenging trading conditions.

Rob Bould, Chief Executive at GVA, comments: “These results reflect a robust performance that fulfils the goals we set out to meet in April 2012. We have gained market share, increased fee income and continued to invest in our resilient, advisory-led regional model that differentiates us from other UK commercial property advisors.”

The Midlands region of GVA saw turnover increase by 7 per cent to £22.3m with growth coming in Offices, Rating, Planning Development and Regeneration, Building Consultancy, Telecoms and Automotive and Roadside.

Over the same period, the number of staff in the region increased to 385, including a national property management accounts team of 100, Group accounts, HR and other national business critical support functions based in the Midlands. Professional fee earners increased to 220.

The GVA key teams were also strengthened with the appointment of new directors, Chris Kershaw – a high profile Industrial and distribution stalwart of over 30 years’ experience and Alastair Roberston-Dunn into Retail.

One of the highlights of the year was the second largest Birmingham office leasing deal of the last decade. GVA acted for Hines and Moorfield on Five Brindleyplace in a deal that will see Deutsche Bank bring up to 1,000 new jobs into Birmingham.

Another high point was the acquisition of Blue Planet distribution facility, the only speculative BREEAM outstanding industrial building ever developed in the Midlands. This extends to 383,000 sq ft, and was acquired on behalf of JCB, one of the regions highest profile and most successful manufacturers. Meanwhile, the Midlands based Automotive and Roadside team and Investment teams also concluded the firms biggest agency deal last year in acquiring nine Motorway Service Areas for in excess of £200m, generating agency and investment fees of more than £1m

Other key regional client wins included the provision of advice to Birmingham City University on the vacation and eventual disposal of its City North Campus at Perry Bar; appointment to the Land and property Professional services Framework for HS2 and the appointment on Friargate Coventry, a 35 acre 3.3 million sq ft office led, mixed use development adjacent to Coventry Station, where Coventry City Council have recently announced its proposed acquisition of the first building that will kick start this major regeneration scheme in the next 6 months.

Commenting on performance in the Midlands, Regional Senior Director Ian Stringer said: “It’s has been a long haul since we first felt the chill winds blowing through the property market in late 2007, although the reality of recession didn’t really bite until Lehmans failed in September 2008.

“Since the turn of 2013, things have felt markedly better in many sectors and, whilst it will take a while to get back to what would be recognised as ‘normal’ trading conditions, a lack of available quality space on the prime office, industrial and distribution sectors will encourage the re-emergence of development activity.

“In most sectors it is difficult to comprehend that, for over 5 years, we have seen absolutely no new speculative development and indeed very little pre let generated development activity. Barring any macro-economic upset, the Midlands property market is now turning – and quite fast in certain sectors”.

The GVA Midlands office is a one-off in a regional context with by far and away the largest and widest regional service offer of any of the major property consultancies in the UK.

With roots back to the1820’s in Birmingham, Stringer believes that in the Midlands, “We retain the right balance of strong consultancy services across both the West and East Midlands with a deep presence in most agency sectors. Our challenge is to continually strengthen those areas by attracting new talent”.

In support of this, GVA has signed up as a core sponsor of the Birmingham Professional Services Academy which opened its doors to the first intake this September.