The Birmingham office of the global property consultants DTZ has largely withstood the pressures on the commercial property market which drove the group as a whole into a second-half loss and forcing it to cut the final dividend.
Without exceptional charges of £15 million, DTZ would have made a £20.6 million profit for its year to April, down from £38 million the year before. The final dividend is cut to 3.0p from 8.0p last time, trimming the year’s total to 6.5p. The shares slipped 2p to 163p.
The exceptional charges included £11.7 million impairment from investments in America, but the rest arose from integrating newly acquired Donaldsons, together with an unspecified number of redundancies.
Donaldsons, which is known for its expertise in retail property, has materially expanded DTZ’s presence in Birmingham where it now has 350 staff.
Geoff Thomas, regional chairman for the Midlands and southwest, said it has greatly enhanced DTZ’s capabilities in public sector consulting and retail asset management which, locally, includes managing the Bullring, The Fort shopping park and Telford shopping centre.
“We have had quite a good year in Birmingham,” Mr Thomas added. “We have had some very nice deals.”
These included advising Wragge & Coon the acquisition of its new Birmingham headquarters with space enough to house 1,800 staff at Two Snowhill. It is the biggest ever pre-let contract in central Birmingham, Mr Thomas said.
DTZ has also been working with Calthorpe Estates on its £110 million gateway project Edgbaston Galleries at Five Ways.
Mr Thomas believes that Birmingham property should hold up much better than that in London.
“In tough times regional cities are usually in a better position,” he said. “The occupational side, the letting market for industrial properties and offices has remained steady. Supply and demand are both reasonably steady.”
But secondary and tertiary retail sites are more difficult.
“Finance is the problem in the investment market,” Mr Thomas added. “Nobody is sure what things are worth. The biggest problem we have got is confidence.”