The improved profit enabled us to make gift aid charitable donations of £596,060 in the year to our three charitable trusts: Andrews Charitable Trust (ACT), Christian Book Promotion Trust (CBPT), and Christian Initiative Trust (CIT). The pay-out marks an increase of £41,000 compared to last year and is the highest of the last decade.
However, our pre-tax profits dipped slightly to £995,978, from £1.1m. This was due to a 2 per cent drop in revenue in the letting and management division as a result of a challenging market place which favoured sales more than lettings. However, this division remained its most profitable and provided a strong base of recurring revenues.
Interest receivable also fell with lower prevailing deposit rates, impacting profits.
Following improvement in the residential property market, we opened three new branches during the year; two in Gloucestershire and a Fine & Country branch in Bristol.
Both our financial services and landmark surveyors division also reported an increase in turnover for the year.
The average number of staff employed at Andrews per month grew to 569 from 540 the previous year.
Looking ahead, I expect 2015 to be a different shaped year compared to 2014 as a result of May's General Election. The market is expected to start relatively quietly because of the uncertainty but the fundamentals are in place for it to be another good year.
We are continuing to seek opportunities for profitable expansion either organically or by acquisition. A major brand review is also planned for the coming year to ensure the group remains up to date and competitive in the changing market.
In December 2014 we completed the £543,150 acquisition Midsomer Norton-based Accredited Lettings, bringing the office into the group. Since we’ve recently announced the launch of an estate agency business alongside the lettings and management offering.