Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aukett Fitzroy Robinson slips into the red at the half-year

Aukett Fitzroy Robinson, the architects quoted on the Stock Exchange, reports a woeful six-month trading period which has resulted in a pre-tax loss of ВЈ1.2m.

Staff levels in the UK were cut by 36% to produce an annualised saving of ВЈ2.9m but there is the prospect of more to come.

Nicholas Thompson, chief executive, said: “In the face of the steady downward trend in our markets we have progressively taken steps to reduce our operating costs.

“Given the size of our secured, but uninstructed order book, we remain confident that we will be able to trade through this downturn.”

Addressing future prospects, Thompson added: “We see no firm evidence of any upturn and therefore in the short term management attention will focus on the continuing need to lower our cost base.”


Aukett Fitzroy Robinson slips into the red at the half-year


Thompson believes the group will survive, saying that “in the longer term, when markets recover, we will revert to our corporate objective to increase revenues to £25m.”

Accountants Baker Tilly stepped forward with an independent review report which says little other than saying “the directors are responsible for preparing and presenting the half-yearly financial report”.

The interim dividend has been scrapped though the board says there could be a payout to shareholders at the full year-end if the sun has started to shine.

The latest figures cover the six months to 31 March 2009. Turnover was lower at ВЈ8.2m (figure in comparable period last year: ВЈ11m). The first half of the previous financial year generated a pre-tax profit of ВЈ1.2m.

Twelve planning applications with a construction value of ВЈ1.5bn were in progress during the period and of these ten have so far received consent.

However, to date only two of these schemes, with a construction value of ВЈ40m, have proceeded to the next stage.

This dragging of feet reflects “the cautiousness in the client market due to tenant scarcity and also the general lack of funding due to the terms imposed by lenders for equity participation from developers”.

During the period Aukett UK moved its main office which triggered one-off costs of ВЈ475,000.

There has been a hiccup in the Middle East: a re-appraisal of on-going projects resulted in some fees being renegotiated and others being delayed while such negotiations took place.

This reduced turnover by ВЈ585,000.

Additionally, the UK operation retained a number of staff in excess of the optimum in respect of a project that was won in February but later had the award withdrawn. Up to 40 staff would have been allocated to the project had it proceeded.

This resulted in additional staff costs in the period of ВЈ120,000.

Internationally Russia's performance was mixed with a number of major projects being cancelled or delayed due to funding difficulties in the early part of the financial year.

This was offset by the success in winning a new mixed use scheme on the Moscow River in January.

Revenue remained largely unchanged at ВЈ1.9m (2008: ВЈ1.9m) with profits of ВЈ600,000.

 However there remains a residual level of uncertainty on all projects in the current economic environment.

Finally, the group has three major claims for fees under existing contracts with clients. Two of these claims relate to additional work performed whilst the third relates to the fee due where recovery litigation is at an advanced stage

The group notes: “The directors have made estimates that they consider reasonable and prudent of the most probable outcome of these three claims based upon available information including historical precedents and professional advice.

“However, a different outcome from any of these claims from that anticipated could increase or decrease the group's year end results. Any associated costs have been written-off as incurred.