Architect Hugh Wallace, a host of RTÉ's Home of the Year show, has said fee income at the architectural business he co-owns "fell off the earth" during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Wallace was commenting on new accounts for Douglas Wallace Consultants Ltd, which show post-tax profits at the firm more than halved to €63,733 in the 12 months to the end of June last. The performance followed post-tax profits of €133,557 in the prior 12 months.
“It was a difficult year. Going into 2020 we had a full book, and 50 per cent was in hospitality and that was cancelled,” Mr Wallace said.
“Fee income fell off the earth and we had to readjust, reduce staff numbers and the Covid-19 payments from government were a great help.
“To be totally honest, our business has only recently returned since January, and there is hope in the hospitality sector that business is back.”
Mr Wallace also fronts The Great House Revival on RTÉ. He said his profile was good for the firm's business.
“So when I go to meetings, I’m asked ‘Can I take your photograph; my wife loves your show?’ They are trying to look at the football and the wife has the show on.”
He said: “Our order book is healthy and we have been staffing up, which is very difficult as the market is currently bananas in terms of recruiting people. Pre-Covid, we employed 16-18 employees and that dropped down to 11 and is now back up to 15.”
Mr Wallace said his firm was involved in a substantial number of planning gains last year.
"From that point I am very optimistic but all stakeholders are dealing with a dysfunctional planning system. At the moment, some of the permissions we have in have gone to An Bord Pleanála, and we are waiting one year for a decision and that is outrageous."
Mr Wallace said the appeals board has been overstretched by the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) – or fast-track – process.
At the end of last June, accumulated profits at Douglas Wallace Consultants totalled €418,664 while the company’s cash funds increased from €507,052 to €548,170.
The impact of Covid-19 on the company’s business resulted in the firm paying out dividends of €13,009 last year compared with dividends of €125,000 in the prior year.