Knight Frank cautious after bumper year

Marion Dakers
ESTATE agent Knight Frank said it expects to suffer after the government’s spending review next month, as the firm announced a 168 per cent rise in profit to £58.4m for last year.

The group said yesterday that all of its branches were in profit, with particular strength in the UK and Asia pushing revenue up 13 per cent to £288m for the year to 31 March.

However, senior partner Nick Thomlinson said: “Going forward, with public sector debt the equivalent of more than half of the UK GDP, the issue remains to what extent the recovering private sector will be able to compensate for the anticipated cuts to the public sector.

“Consequently 2011 is expected to be a more difficult year, both in economic and property performance terms.”

Thomlinson added that property prices continued to rise over the summer, though the pace of growth had slowed.

Meanwhile, the firm benefited from sales in Hong Kong, where rental rates increased at the fastest pace in the world last year. It said modest rises seen in Shanghai, Sydney and Singapore last year should spread to the rest of Asia by 2011.

Last year’s profit translated into an average bonus of £600,000 for each of Knight Frank’s 59 partners, though the firm declined to say how much individual partners received. Knight Frank more than doubled its budget for bonuses and commission, spending £35.5m last year.

The company said it remains free of debt, with around £74m available cash and a £30m unused debt facility.

● The estate agent operates from 209 offices in 43 countries

● Notable deals include advising on the £671m White Tower asset sale and acting as leasing agent on the Walkie Talkie skyscraper