A trading announcement by Belvoir reveals the company has seen another year of significant growth - its 24th on the trot.
The company - which says it's the UK's largest property franchise - made the announcement at the same time as rival franchise operator The Property Franchise Group announced its proposed takeover of Hunters.
Belvoir says trading in 2020 exceeded its pre-Covid-19 expectations with revenue up 12 per cent to £21.6m: the company says it “expects that the performance for the year, including profit before tax, will be comfortably ahead of management's expectations.”
The property division achieved revenue growth of 12 per cent of which 10 per cent related to the acquisition of the Lovelle network.
Management service fees - the return from individual franchisees - was up three per cent and Belvoir says the Spring 2020 Covid lockdown had minimal impact on this.
Revenue from the financial services division increased significantly by 13 per cent, after the company grew the network of financial advisers by 22 per cent to 202.
“The swift and decisive action taken by the board to reduce its cost base at the start of the pandemic left overheads significantly below the original budget, with some of those savings continuing into 2021” the statement adds.
Staff salary reductions during the first lockdown have been reimbursed and Belvoir will be returning the furlough and government Coronavirus loan funds of £260,000.
Chief executive Dorian Gonsalves says: "The group has once again demonstrated the incredible resilience of the Belvoir franchise business model, having consistently reported profit growth for 24 consecutive years, including through the 2007 financial crash, the 2019 ban on tenant fees and now the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.
"All parts of the business have performed exceptionally well despite the backdrop of the pandemic. This has been largely thanks to our employees, who have worked tirelessly to support our networks, and to our property franchisees and financial services advisers, who in turn have continued to deliver the best possible service to their clients.
"The board is mindful that we are not yet through the pandemic and it is too early in 2021 to gauge the medium-term impact of Covid-19. We are conscious that the stamp duty holiday is due to end on 31 March 2021, however we are confident that having traded successfully through 2020, we are well positioned to deal with any further challenges in 2021.
"The board remains focused on its successful growth strategy that has ensured the expansion and the diversification of the Belvoir Group from a single brand lettings franchise with 162 offices in 2014 to a multi-brand property franchise supporting a network of over 400 individual businesses across five distinct brands, specialising in residential lettings, property sales and property-related financial services."