By Neil Hart, Group Managing Director at Bradley Hall Chartered Surveyors and Estate Agents.
Over the past 12 months we’ve experienced first-hand the resilience of the North East economy and its ability to thrive and adapt to lingering uncertainty and the subsequent climate. North East SMEs have largely continued to operate with confidence and market activity has continued at a steady pace.
Across the region, dedication to paying attention to the market and modifying business in accordance with demand is now essential to survive in a challenging climate. Creativity is key and many local businesses have altered their approach in order to prosper. Innovative solutions have helped to keep our region’s retail and leisure sectors afloat. Quirky destinations such as STACK Newcastle have provided opportunities for smaller retailers and hospitality outlets to occupy space in the vibrant and ever evolving Newcastle city centre, with this success planned to be replicated at the popular Sunderland seafront area of Seaburn.
Local Authorities also continue to move forward, with a recent and significant announcement of Sunderland reshaping and redefining itself through a £1.5bn programme of development. This visionary strategy will include residential and commercial projects which will hugely impact the city and its communities. Regional operators continue to acclimatise and are reaping the benefits of their inventive approaches to attracting consumers from near and far. This is in a stark contrast to some national operators who continue to struggle in the current, challenging, climate.
The North East LEP recently revealed the importance of innovation in its Our Economy 2019 report. The report revealed that 19% of businesses have adopted new business practices, 14% have introduced new methods of organising responsibilities, 10% made changes to marketing concepts and 9% adopted new methods of organising external relationships. In accordance with this 11% of turnover was from goods or services that were new to business and 12% from goods or services which were significantly improved due to innovation.
Although Bradley Hall has been established for over 30 years, it continues to become a very different business from what it once was, and even year on year develops in accordance with the market. The Board of Directors and Senior Management Team continue to reinvent our approach to support the growth which we have planned.
This strategy has allowed us to grow both our commercial and residential operations across the company, which now include a range of services including Commercial Agency, Estate Agency, Mortgages, Property Management, Professional Services, Land, Development & New Homes, Building Surveying and Commercial Finance alongside sister company BH Planning & Design. Earlier in the year, we were delighted to announce that the departments collectively welcomed a 20% increase in net profit and a turnover exceeding £3.5m.
Results from the first half of the financial year showcased that residential operations based in Morpeth, Alnwick, Gosforth and Durham collectively marked a sales increase of 157% and an increase in new instructions by 147%. This success follows a significant investment in technology and training as well as new premises and expansion across the region, while our regional offices continue to acquire further market share and our brand presence continues to increase.
With the growth in demand for our services for the public sector, we were also delighted to be awarded the Homes England Property Services Framework. The appointment to this national panel now allows us to act as key advisors on future North East and national government housing projects.
We’re proud of our extremely diverse residential offering as we continue to market a range of properties from shared ownership and new build homes to some of the most prestigious properties in the region.
As demand in Northumberland has grown significantly, we relocated our Alnwick operation to larger premises to accommodate the demand for our services in the area. We continue to be a passionate advocate of the county as Northumberland plays an important part in our regional economy, attracting Brits and visitors from further afield with a tourism sector worth 11.8% of the county's economy, bringing £665m to the area. Our work with housebuilding in the area is on an upward trajectory and our Morpeth and Alnwick operations continue to welcome more demand from loyal and new clients.
Additionally, our commercial operations continue to go from strength to strength as we experience first-hand the resilience of the North East. Between September 2018 and August 2019 our commercial agency team completed 344 sales, lettings and acquisitions including; office, retail, investment, industrial in the North East to the value of £100m and 2m sq. ft. Commercial activity also earned the title of Estates Gazette’s (EG) Most Active Agents in the North East, whilst office sector activity grew by 400%.
We’re delighted with another year of outstanding progress and look forward to continuing this success and growth into 2020.
For more information please contact Bradley Hall on 0191 232 8080