Sherry FitzGerald turnover rises 8% in 2012
Estate agent moves towards breakeven at operating level as property market activity increases
Sherry FitzGerald chief executive Mark FitzGerald: called for national property strategy to be formulated to “unblock the blockage” that is building up in the market. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Irish estate agent Sherry FitzGerald increased its turnover last year by 8 per cent to €16.3 million and moved towards breakeven at an operating level as the property market showed signs of increased activity.
It also expects to make a trading profit in 2013 due to the increased levels of activity now in the residential and commercial property markets.
Accounts for Sherry FitzGerald (Ireland) Holdings Ltd showed the company reached breakeven at Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) level in 2012. This compared with an Ebitda loss of €100,000 in the previous year. A depreciation charge of €500,000 and goodwill amortisation of €856,000 left the company with an operating loss of €1.3 million.
Gains of €867,000 on a property lease and losses attributed to a minority interest left Sherry FitzGerald with a loss for the year of €524,000.
This compared with a profit of €14 million in 2012 though that figure was flattered by a once-off €19.3 million gain from the waiving of an inter-company loan.
Commenting on current trading, chief executive Mark FitzGerald said: “We expect a very strong fourth quarter on the commercial side. Residential is about 20 per cent ahead and we do expect to be profitable by the year end.”
Staff costs rose last year by 8 per cent to €11.7 million. Sherry FitzGerald increased its staff numbers from 185 to 205 and expects to add another 20 employees this year.
It is also using the services of Aidan Hume, son of former SDLP leader John Hume, as a senior advisor in the US, where the company is advising clients on investing in Ireland. The company closed last year with cash of €1.7 million, down €400,000 on the previous year, and continues to be debt free.
Property prices in Dublin have risen by 9.7 per cent in the first nine months of this year compared with 6.2 per cent nationally. Mr FitzGerald said this difference is driven by a shortage of supply in Dublin. An analysis by the company shows that, of the 46,000 dwellings for sale in Ireland, just 4,500 – or less than 10 per cent – are in Dublin.
Mr FitzGerald called for a national property strategy to be formulated to “unblock the blockage” that is building up in the market. He said the company would launch a new website in the next few months, with greater functionality and suitable for various platforms. “It’ll be pretty slick,” he said.