Vail Williams reports nine per cent increase in turnover

Property consultancy Vail Williams LLP has announced a nine per cent increase in turnover following continued growth in a ‘challenging’ year.
February 28, 2022
The firm’s accounts report record-breaking revenues of £16.86 million for 2020-21, up from £15.5 million the previous year.

Vail Williams also expanded geographically, increased staff numbers and grew its client base during the year.

Managing Partner Matthew Samuel-Camps said: “The last 24 months have been a real test of character and we’ve come out exactly where we wanted to – and that’s ahead of the curve.

“The big positives for me are that turnover is up by nine per cent in a pandemic and that we’ve continued to grow the business, which is a testament to the quality of our team and our collegiate culture.

“The reaction by my colleagues to the challenges of the pandemic has been absolutely superb – the manner in which we have kept close to our clients and supported each other really reflected our award winning culture. We have very much remained on course throughout this period thanks to our robust business plan.

“Agency has continued to perform outstandingly, concluding a number of headline deals in the face of strong competition – and we are seeing an excellent return from those teams in which we have invested, providing a better balance of income across the business.

“Rating produced a fantastic 37 per cent growth and, very positively, our Building Consultancy team, which benefited from our previous acquisition of national property advisers Trilogie in 2019, had a 17 per cent growth in turnover.”

Vail Williams continued strategic growth during the financial year, merging with chartered surveyors Cowling & West last March to open a new base in Bournemouth which has proved to be very successful.

Staff numbers are firmly on the rise. The firm now employs a record 170 people across its 10 offices in Birmingham, Leeds, Reading, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Woking, Crawley, Heathrow and London, compared to 156 pre-pandemic.

Matthew said Vail Williams reacted to the national lockdown decisively, empathetically and quickly. The pandemic had very much been a watershed moment.

He added: “The last quarter of the previous financial year coincided with the first lockdown and that knocked us back a bit, as it did everybody, but we have rebounded.

“We had a very clear plan, we’ve executed that plan and that is why we are in this great position now. We are looking to continue that growth trajectory this financial year. All our forecasts indicate that we will do even better, which is important.”

Alongside its growing client base, Vail Williams continues to act for some of the biggest names in the UK business world, including government departments, transport companies, health trusts, investment firms, developers and the education sector.

Matthew added: “We continue to be an agile business and attentive to change in our fast-moving property world and we remain very close to our clients to ensure we can anticipate their needs.

“As well as the team expanding organically as a result of growing demand for services – despite well-documented industry-wide challenges in attracting top talent – we’ve also increased our focus on training to further invest in own personnel and develop stars of the future.

“We will also continue to appraise new growth opportunities, but we are very clear about what we want to do.”

Matthew, with Vail Williams since 1988, said many current challenges remained, not least the ongoing significant inflationary pressure in the economy and the continued fallout from Brexit and Covid-19, plus the increased awareness and consideration of environmental implications across the supply chain as well as customer expectations, which were all drivers of change.

“There are still fantastic opportunities out there – still a strong demand for housing and for the right type of commercial property, where demand constantly outstrips supply. It remains a very dynamic market and one which is still very attractive to investors, lenders and developers.

“The nature of occupiers’ needs is changing considerably – a lot of the themes and trends that existed pre-pandemic have been accelerated and there is substantial demand  particularly around last-mile logistics and all the supply infrastructure for online shopping.

“The environmental criteria of buildings are becoming ever more increasingly important for occupiers, often driven by their own customers, which is generating innovation and change in the market.

“We are also trying to encourage conversation and debate about all these changes through our thought-leadership articles, opinion pieces and initiatives.

“There is also a general shortage of employment land to which local authorities have to start to pay attention. Most of their forward planning is very much centred around residential, but we have to see an improvement in increased availability of good quality employment land, otherwise it will start to choke off local economies.

“The availability of competitively-priced employment land, be that industrial or offices, is a pre-requisite to a healthy economy.”

Matthew added that many office-led businesses were now reassessing their property needs, with a consensus that an element of home working was appropriate, but so was an element of office-based working.

“They have recognised the need to improve the physical quality of the office environment – better use of space, less compartmentalisation of offices, fewer hard-wired client areas and more breakout spaces. You can no longer have the same density that was previously acceptable.”

Vail Williams had long operated a hybrid system and an internal project team, Back2Better, last summer canvassed staff opinion, with the clear response being for a continuance of a mixture of home and office-based working, mainly a 3/2 or 4/1 pattern.