The news in the FT today that Sir John Beckwith has "teamed up" with Gerald Parkes to invest in property had an oddly familiar ring. In fact that particular piece of news was first announced in the same paper on September 13th 2009. The new news is that a property fund of has finally been launched by Parkes, the former head of Lehman Brothers real estate private equity business. Last year the FT story tagged on Knight Frank's results. This year they did not.
Last year the Sunday Times got to carry Knight Frank's figures, this year, the same. Last year turnover in the 12 months to April 2009 fell from £334m to £256m and profits from £59m to £21m: this year turnover partially recovered to £288m - but profits almost wholly recovered to £58m. To squeeze an additional £37m of profit out of a business where turnover increased by just £32m is a formidable management achievement and a tribute to the strength of the brand.
The full Limited Liability Partnership accounts have yet to be lodged at Companies House. So, it is not currently possible to display the detail on how KF managed the bounce back. But it is not hard to guess from the mood music that residential has been the star performer, and London the stellar spot. But you don't get to increase profits more than turnover without either cutting costs or increasing market share - or by doing both at the same time.
This will be a hard trick to follow in the current year, which is already half over. London residential is probably still doing fine: but the mood music on future trading from senior partner, Nick Thomlinson, sounds a bit sombre. UK commercial "more difficult"; Asia Pacific "more modest"; Europe "a stuttering pattern" even residential "appears to be slowing." The news in September 2011 might not be so good. Maybe Gerald Parkes will cheer.