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AGM hears message of geographical expansion from H&H Group “in robust health”

11th November 2016

Carlisle based H&H Group today presented its 2015-2016 accounts at its AGM at Borderway with a strong message of looking to a future of development and expansion to build on the last 12 months of growth. H&H Group PLC focuses on future growth after year of consolidation The accounts showed Group net assets increased to £17.378 million which was a profit before tax of £712,000. H&H Group’s Chief Executive Brian Richardson told the AGM: “A lot of work has been going on to fully integrate our acquisitions of the last year and position the business for further profitable growth in the future. The Group is in robust health and as a company our visions looking to the future. It is about taking our time to build on our existing foundations and strengthening our presence within the wider areas in which we now operate.” In buying John Swan and Son PLC, the Borders livestock auctioneering business in October 2015 Harrison & Hetherington, became the UK’s biggest livestock auction marts business. In acquiring the south Cumbrian Estate and Land Agency business of Michael CL Hodgson in January this year and opening and H&H King property office in Penrith it has become one of Cumbria’s largest property agencies. Mr Richardson said:  “These incorporations and development have significantly increased the company’s geographical coverage into Scotland and across all areas of the North of England.  Although it will take us time to bed down, this policy of growth will be a key part of the Group’s plans for the year ahead as well as growth for the individual businesses of Harrison and Hetherington, H&H Land and Property, H&H King and H&H Insurance.” H&H Group has a significant property portfolio. Currently it is applying for planning permission for a major development of the car park site at Rosehill in Carlisle, which includes provision for a new Pioneer Foods store. It has also recently submitted a planning application for 200 housing units and university accommodation in Edinburgh, on land it acquired as part of its takeover of John Swan & Son PLC. As well as the former John Swan sites at Newton St Boswell in Scotland and Wooler in North Northumberland, the livestock marts division operates from three established mart bases in Cumbria – Carlisle, Kirkby Stephen and Broughton-in-Furness; Middleton-in-Teesdale in County Durham; Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway; and Newcastleton in the Scottish Borders. The division had a solid 2015-16, with the new sites at Newtown St Boswells and Wooler increasing throughput by a third. The acquisition of Michael CL Hodgson’s Estate Agency branches in Kendal and Grange-over-Sands, and the opening of an H&H King Estate Agency branch in Penrith together with its branch in Carlisle means the business covers the whole of Cumbria and is building its reach into Scotland. Further Estate Agency expansion is planned in the future. The Michael CL Hodgson business brought with it a busy land agency office in Kendal which has joined the existing H&H Land Agency offices at Carlisle and Durham. A further office has recently been opened at Newtown St Boswells in the Borders giving further coverage for H&H Land & Property in Southern Scotland and Northern England. The land agency will be focusing on growth North of the Border from its new St Boswells office. With coverage across the north of England, Scotland and north Wales, H&H Insurance Brokers this year received the coveted Chartered Insurance Broker Status. The market for insurance is extremely competitive with some premium deflation, while the business is rising to the challenging market by offering first class products at very competitive prices. H&H Reeds Printers has consolidated its operations and both Penrith and Milnthorpe and has seen a growth in sales with a wider spread of business. This sector remains extremely competitive and work continues to reduce costs and develop new markets, such as the recently introduced online customer ordering platform providing access to wider markets. Brian Richardson concluded: “We have made a good start to the current financial year and whilst the uncertainty of Brexit is having some effect on the wider economy, we remain focused on developing all areas of the Groups’ operating businesses, to consolidate and grow their positions in their individual sectors. Employing in excess of 300 people, a number that has increased in recent years, H&H Group are a major regional employer. Investing in their teams, young people and apprentices, they have a strong career progression programme. Friday 11 November 2016

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