Estate agent Savills will embark on further international expansion after shrugging off concerns in the UK property market to grow revenues and profits last year.
Jeremy Helsby, the outgoing chief executive, said the company's focus for this year would be its expansion in Europe, where it has recently grown operations in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. But also said Savills would be looking at opportunities in new markets including South America, the Middle East and India.
But the global real estate firm gave a cautious warning that while it had made a “solid start” to 2018, it anticipated a “tempering” of the recent strong transaction volumes in some markets this year amid geopolitical risks and rising interest rates.
In the year to Dec 31, strong growth in the UK and Asia, including Hong Kong, China, Australia and Japan, boosted Savills' pre-tax profits to £112.4m, up from £99.8m in 2016.
The company, which earns nearly two-thirds of its revenue outside the UK, said global turnover was £1.6bn in 2017, an 11pc increase on the year before.
Despite "challenging conditions" in the domestic residential and commercial markets, revenue in the UK rose 8pc to £626m.
It called out the resilience of its UK business, which delivered the second strongest revenue growth in 2017 behind Asia, which achieved income growth of 16pc, following heavy investment in Hong Kong and China.
Analysts at financial services firm UBS said fears that commercial transactions in the UK would slump following the EU referendum vote in 2016 seem not to have played out, with the market performing "better than expected", as occupiers and investors took a more "realistic" view on Brexit risks.
However, analysts agree that property markets in 2018 are expected to be more subdued. In December, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said house price growth would "grind to a halt" this year amid a toxic cocktail of low levels of sales and homes on the market, as well as cautious buyers.
Halifax said it predicts UK house price growth to remain low this year, between 0pc and 3pc.
Savills shares were up 0.3pc on Thursday morning, to 979p.
Analysts at Peel Hunt said: "The shares look fairly priced given the outlook, so current holders should be relaxed. Potential investors need to wait for a better buying opportunity".
Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk / Sophie Christie