Aukett Associates has attributed plummeting pre-tax profits to a continuing squeeze on fees and a difficult trading climate.
Figures for the six months to the end of March show a 65 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to
45 000 from 131 000 in the same period last year. Turnover remained static at around 3.45m, but the group reduced its borrowing by 235 000 to 2.13m.
Aukett chairman Gerry Deighton concedes that the departure of the practice’s founder Michael Aukett in December has affected business. “But that would be the case if any senior partner left,” he says.
“Primarily, the market remains difficult and unpredictable – our optimistic predictions of last year haven’t been sustained and the squeeze on profit margins is continuing,” he says.
Aukett has established a new joint venture in Brussels with Belgian group Art and Build. This adds to the practice’s other joint ventures in Holland and Berlin.
“One of the things we have noticed is there isn’t the pressure on fees in Holland and Berlin that there is here. We are also looking for other European partners, specifically in Italy and France,” he continues. Earnings per share dropped from 0.86p to 0.3p. There will be no dividend.