Buccleuch back in black after difficult year
Buccleuch, the property investment and land management group, posted a healthy return to underlying profit in a “difficult” pandemic year.
The company’s parent company MDS reported an operating profit of £4.47 million for the year 1 November 2020 to 31 October 2021 against a loss of £6.81m in the previous year. There was a near doubling of revenue to £93m from £48.7m.
Former banker Benny Higgins, who became executive chairman in 2019, said: “Despite the distinct challenges brought by the global pandemic over the last couple of years.”
He described the figures as a “marked improvement on the previous year and one Buccleuch’s strategy aims to replicate over the coming years.”
He added: “Each of Buccleuch’s diverse enterprises performed well in often difficult and testing circumstances.”
He noted that while profit after tax is reported as £37m against £64.8m in the previous year, “this primarily reflects an accounting requirement to revalue rural property assets on an annual basis, rather than underlying performance”.
Mr Higgins said the challenges of the past two years are now being followed by a very uncertain economic outlook due primarily to extraordinary national and international circumstances, which may well continue for some time.
He said: “We will tread cautiously as we navigate the global effects of inflation and interest rate rises, conscious that these will have an impact on our colleagues, customers and communities.
“We are able to do so from a position of financial strength and this will help inform our choices to allow Buccleuch to build on this solid platform.
“Our commercial property enterprise significantly contributed to the overall profit this year, with the team being well positioned to monitor and react to emerging market trends. The long-term outlook adopted by this enterprise continues to stand the business in good stead.
“Our agriculture and forestry enterprises saw the benefit of higher than anticipated livestock and timber markets.
“The storms which hit the UK at the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 were also unanticipated, however, the aftermath will likely impact on the financial performance of Buccleuch’s forestry enterprise within the financial year ending 31 October 2022.
“Buccleuch’s investment in holiday accommodation on the Queensberry and Borders Estates in the South of Scotland benefited from the increase in ‘staycations’. This was also reflected at Dalkeith Country Park, where facilities attracted a healthy increase in visitors.”
Mr Higgins said that Buccleuch continues in its commitment to communities and the environment through a variety of initiatives, from large scale projects such as peatland restoration, woodland planting and renewable energy, to smaller contributions such as species protection and local biodiversity projects, recognising that land use will play an important role in the journey to net zero.