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Connells more than doubles profit

Connells Group generated £20.8m in pre-tax profit for the first half of the year - more than double the £10.3m recorded for the same period in 2008.

Sales for the agency group also increased, up 23% for the six months to June 30 2009. Sales plummeted 40% in the first half of 2008.

The news comes as part of the half-year results announcement from Skipton Building Society, the group’s parent, out today [July 28]. The society revealed pre-tax profit of £17m for the six months to June 30 2009, 61% down on the £43.1m reported in the first half of last year.

A spokeswoman for the society adds that of the £24m worth of the provisions for liabilities reported by the group last year, £5.3m related to expected and actual branch closures across the Connells Group. She says that this has since been reduced to £4.4m due to a greater level of provisions being made than were needed and stronger market activity than anticipated.

Connells Group chief executive, David Livesey, says: "We have generated the whole of 2008's profits [£10.4m] in the first half of 2009, and I think this position will improve hereon on.

"Our pipeline of busines is double what it was at the start of the year."

Livesey claims that group net sales in June were double what they were in June 2008.

He adds: "Revenue was ever so slightly down in the first half of the year, but it was because we reduced our cost base. The best is yet to come; while the first half of the year was about reducing the cost base, the second half is more about improvements in revenue."

He says he expects group profit to be more than double the £10.3m reported for the first half of the year, in spite of industry speculation that the sales flurry seen in the last few months has been little more than a market blip.

"We have seen a five-month unbroken trend of increasing house prices since February, which for me is more than just one swallow making a summer."

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