The UK’s second largest corporate LSL Property Services sold all its ZPG shares last year for £32.9 million to “protect its balance sheet” during a difficult 2016 that saw profits and margins tumble.
LSL is the parent company of 12 estate agency brands including YourMove, Reeds Rains and Marsh Parsons. It also employs 4,990 people in the UK across its three key areas, surveying, estate agency and mortgages.
The group’s profits during 2016 dropped by 19% on revenue that edged up from £300.6 to £307.8 million. But its balance sheet looks better following the sales of its entire stock of Zoopla shares. Operating margin also decreased, from 14.3% to 11.3%.
“After a strong overall first half performance in the Estate Agency Division we reacted decisively to the changing market conditions in the second half of the year with selective cost reduction measures,” says Chairman Simon Embley (pictured, left).
“[This included] branch closures and [we] protected the balance sheet by disposing of the Group’s shareholding in Zoopla and pausing acquisition activity.”
LSL strategy revealed
LSL also revealed its plans for next year and beyond within the preliminary announcement including several of its key strategies.
Ian Crabb, the Group Chief Executive (pictured, right) says LSL is planning to achieve an average branch operating profit of between £80,000 and £100,000 a year in the medium term. He also reveals that LSL is to increase the number of Marsh & Parsons offices to 39 over the next two years, including outside central London.
He also says that LSL spent much of last year looking at what hybrid and online-only business models could bring to the group, and will now “explore and evaluate” what they are going to do next.