Commercial property developer Buccleuch has published its group financial statements for the year ending 31 October 2018.
The group had a turnover of £54,234,000 across commercial property and rural business operations with overall profit after taxation of £23,230,000 due mainly to property revaluations and sales.
The Duke of Buccleuch stood down as chairman of the company to be succeeded by Benny Higgins as executive chairman.
The Earl of Dalkeith, Lord Walter Scott, elected vice-chairman.
Benny Higgins, executive chairman of MDS Estates Ltd, the parent company of Buccleuch, said: “We find ourselves on the cusp of an exciting period of change for Buccleuch.
“Within the commercial property sector, the commercial and residential markets have had a positive year, with record levels of investment and sustained growth in rental and capital values which were better than predicted. Against this background, Buccleuch Property had a positive year, delivering profitability against target and delivering to forecast on disposal and reinvestment commitments, setting us up in a strong position for the coming year.
“Diversification and an increasing shift to working within joint ventures in agriculture have and will continue to help the business maintain a positive position overall. While within forestry, the attainment of better than expected timber prices in the South of Scotland, combined with other works undertaken by the forestry team led to a substantial increase in revenue over the year, which looks set to be maintained.
“Brexit continues to cause uncertainty across all the sectors in which Buccleuch operate, although the true impact will not be known for a few years.
“We will continue to plan our various land uses, from forestry and farming, to hospitality and renewable energy, with a clear focus on economic, environmental and community considerations. In doing so, we will continue to review and shrink the footprint of Buccleuch, which, together with new projects and other investments will allow the business to maintain a surer footing.
“While we have reported profit of £23,230,000 in these accounts a very significant part of that arises from property revaluations and from profits on the sale of assets, rather than underlying operational performance, although that too has improved year on year. This strong financial position will improve job security for colleagues and provides the means to invest in other areas of the business.”
Buccleuch actively farms 159,000 acres across its four estates and, over the year, the forestry team have continued their work planting and maintaining 24,250 acres of commercial and heritage woodlands. Alongside these more traditional rural industries, Buccleuch’s commercial property interests had a positive year and further investment was made into Dalkeith Country Park to improve the customer experience.