OnTheMarket plc (LON:OTMP), the majority agent-owned company which operates the OnTheMarket.com property portal, today announced its audited results for the year ended 31 January 2021.
Highlights of the year
Year ended 31 January 2021 2020 Change
Group revenue £23.0m £18.8m 22%
Adjusted operating profit / (loss)1 £2.4m £(9.2)m £11.6m
Operating profit / (loss) £1.2m £(11.7)m £12.9m
Profit / (loss) after tax £2.7m £(11.5)m £14.2m
Year-end cash £10.7m £8.7m 23%
ARPA2 £142 £122 16%
Average advertisers3 listed 13,285 12,740 4%
Total advertisers at 31 Jan 12,687 13,364 (5)%
Traffic/visits4 267m 237m 13%
Average monthly leads per advertiser 117 96 22%
· Revenue and ARPA up 22% and 16% respectively
o In part reflects increased revenues from new home developers and despite COVID-19 related customer support discounts of £2.6m and the curtailment of contract conversion activity in H1 FY21.
o Conversion activity resumed in H2 FY21 with 93% of agency advertisers on paying contracts at year end (2020: 68%).
· Delivered first full year of profitability with profit after tax of £2.7m (2020: loss after tax of £11.5m).
· Cost base carefully managed in response to the pandemic – administrative expenses reduced by 26% against 2020.
· Cash generated from operating activities of £5.1m (2020: £(7.0)m).
· Strong balance sheet with year-end cash of £10.7m before deferred creditor payments of £0.4m (31 January 2020: £8.7m before deferred creditors of £0.7m).
· Strong operational performance with growing consumer engagement amongst active property-seekers
o Visits and average monthly leads per advertiser up 13% and 22% respectively, despite the effective suspension of UK housing market activity during the first lockdown and the curtailment of advertising expenditure (down 51% on FY20 to £5.9m).
o Once property market restrictions were lifted, H2 FY21 visits and average monthly leads per advertiser were up 30% and 31% respectively to 151m (H2 FY20: 116m) and 130 (H2 FY20: 99).
Strategic and corporate developments
· An in-depth strategic assessment has been completed and the business has a clear vision to build a differentiated, technology-enabled property business providing services for agents, housebuilders, advertisers and consumers that offers ‘best in class’ products and platforms across the broader property ecosystem, consisting of:
o an engaging and relevant property portal;
o software solutions to meet evolving customer needs;
o the provision of market leading data and market intelligence; and
o a leading property communications and marketing capability, both on behalf of, and in conjunction with, our customers.
· Following the year end OnTheMarket has announced a number of corporate developments including:
o the acquisition of the remaining 80% of Glanty Limited, a property technology business which specialises in providing solutions to the UK residential estate and lettings sectors;
o a media partnership with Reach plc, the UK’s largest commercial news publisher, to enhance consumer engagement and support our agents’ brands;
o new agreements with both Canopy and Sprift Technologies, to provide agent customers with free tenant referencing checks and enhanced Market Appraisal Guides; and
o the launch of three new areas of website functionality to support interactions between agents and consumers.
· Given the strong performance, strength of balance sheet and confidence in the future, the Company will be repaying to HMRC the grants of £449k it received under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
· Positive start to FY22 with current trading in line with the Board’s expectations.
· Marketing activity has resumed and is driving consumer engagement and ARPA is anticipated to continue to grow as agent conversions to paying contracts annualise in FY22, FY21 discounts unwind and as the migration of customers on reduced rate contracts towards full-tariff continues.
· The Group has a strong balance sheet which the Board has a reasonable expectation is sufficient to support the Group’s organic growth strategy. Having achieved profitability in FY21, the Board expects to be able to invest further operationally into the business and return to normalised levels of marketing expenditure without damaging the Group’s prospects for the foreseeable future, assuming no materially adverse unforeseen circumstances arise.
· Cash at 31 May 2021, after the acquisition of Glanty, was £10.0m (before borrowings and deferred creditor payments within Glanty of £0.2m).
· The Board believes that the Group’s recent considerable operational and financial progress, together with a substantial, loyal advertiser base, provides a strong platform for the implementation of its strategy, in order to drive long-term profitable growth.
Jason Tebb, OnTheMarket Chief Executive Officer, commented:
“I am delighted to be reporting a strong performance in my first set of results. Despite the unprecedented conditions we have faced, we have continued to grow the business and achieve profitability. Our operational and financial progress is a testament to the efforts of team and, since joining OnTheMarket in December, I have been incredibly impressed by them and the underlying strength of the business.
OnTheMarket has come a long way since its launch by agents in 2015. From this position of strength, it is now time for the next stage of our development and our new strategy is based on a clear vision of building a tech-enabled property business. We will become more than just a portal and provide best in class products and services that benefit agents, housebuilders and consumers.
We have achieved a great deal in the last six months. We have engaged and listened to agents. We know what they want and their support and belief in the business remains strong. We have completed the acquisition of Glanty, a property technology business, and launched a number of commercial partnerships to enhance our offering. We have launched a number of new products at OnTheMarket.com to drive greater interaction between consumers and customers. Our agents, housebuilder customers, partners and colleagues are all aligned, and, with a lot more to come, I am confident that we will continue to increase value to all our stakeholders.
We look to the future with great excitement. The UK property market continues to be very active and our significant market opportunity remains. With our strong foundations and a new vision and strategy, we are well positioned to succeed.”
1) Adjusted operating profit or loss is defined as operating profit or loss before share-based payments (including charges relating to shares issued for agent recruitment), specific professional fees and non-recurring items. This is an alternative performance measures and should not be considered an alternative to IFRS measures, such as revenue or operating profit. Please see the Financial Review and Key Performance Indicators section below for a reconciliation of operating profit / loss to adjusted operating loss / profit.
2) Average revenue per property advertiser, being revenues due from property advertisers for a period divided by the average number of property advertisers for that period. ARPA presented herein is the average of the monthly ARPAs for the year. A property advertiser is a listed agency branch or a new home development advertising on OnTheMarket.com.
3) Advertisers are either estate and lettings agent branches or new homes developments listed at OnTheMarket.com.
4) Visits comprise individual sessions on OnTheMarket.com’s web based portal or mobile applications by users for the period indicated as measured by Google Analytics.
I am pleased to report OnTheMarket’s full year results to 31 January 2021.
The year began positively, with increasing activity in the UK residential property market following the UK general election in December 2019 and the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on 31 January 2020. However, the year was dominated by the onset and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we have previously expressed, our thoughts have been first and foremost with those who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Despite the unprecedented challenges, the Group delivered a strong performance and FY21 was a year of considerable progress for OnTheMarket. Continued growth in paying customers combined with the migration of customers on discounted rates towards full-tariff contracts saw our revenues grow 22% to £23m, despite COVID-19 related discounts to customers of £2.6m. Careful cost management, in particular a significant reduction in marketing spend, down £6.1m to £5.9m (2020: £12.0m), during the early months of the crisis proved effective as the Group achieved an adjusted operating profit of £2.4m (2020: adjusted operating loss £9.2m).
The national lockdown restrictions in response to COVID-19 which were implemented in March 2020 gave rise to substantial uncertainty for businesses, including ours. OnTheMarket took quick and decisive actions to support our staff, assist our customers and protect our business, further details of which are set out in the Financial Review section below.
One of these actions was to utilise the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, receiving grants totalling £449k. Doing so undoubtedly allowed us to protect the jobs of many of our team. However, the other mitigating actions we took proved effective in protecting our business and conserving our cash. In light of our performance since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strength of our balance sheet and our confidence in the business, we have chosen to repay the £449k of grants received to HMRC.
Following the easing of national lockdown restrictions in May 2020, and despite the substantial reduction in advertising expenditure, consumer engagement with OnTheMarket.com has been very strong and the leads we have achieved indicate to us that those consumers most active in the property market visit our portal.
I am particularly delighted to welcome Jason Tebb as our new Chief Executive Officer. Jason started with us on 14 December 2020 and has settled in quickly. We are excited about his vision for our business and his enthusiasm to deliver tangible results in the short and longer term, further details of which are set out in the Chief Executive Officer’s review below.
After the year end we completed the acquisition of Glanty Limited. The business brings a range of additional products, services and capabilities to OnTheMarket and it provides us with the ability to fast-track some of the planned enhancements to our wider offering to customers and users, including revenue generating and revenue sharing products and services. I extend my warmest welcome to my new colleagues who are now part of the wider OnTheMarket team following the acquisition.
During the year we made changes to the Board that we believe will best enable us to continue our progress as a strong, agent-backed, profitable and technology-enabled business. I reported on these in my statement in last year’s accounts, with the exception of the appointment of Jason as Chief Executive Officer.
Jason brings extensive property and estate agency experience across digital and physical markets, having been Group COO of Ultimate Holdings for the last three years, a group of companies specialising in property investment and finance, property management, property development and property technology. Prior to this, Jason successfully launched, scaled and exited Ivy Gate, an estate and letting agency, was a Regional Managing Director at Main Market listed LSL Property Services plc for three years and held senior management positions at agents Chestertons Limited and Foxtons Group plc.
Chief Financial Officer, Clive Beattie, took on the additional role of Acting Chief Executive Officer from March through to Jason’s start in December. I would like to once more record my thanks to Clive for taking on this role and for all he achieved under exceptionally challenging circumstances.
UK residential property markets remain very active, aided by ongoing government support initiatives. We continue to work tirelessly to support our agent and housebuilder customers with improved and more extensive products and services, whilst providing consumers with the tools and information they seek from a modern, property technology business. I am confident that the many initiatives my colleagues are working on will continue to deliver increasing value to all our stakeholders.
The dedication and resilience exhibited by my colleagues in the face of unprecedented challenges during the year reinforce to me that our business is founded on the people within it. Once more, I offer them my sincerest thanks for their continued support, as well as the support we have been grateful to receive from our shareholders, customers and suppliers.
Christopher Bell – Non-Executive Chairman
Chief Executive Officer’s Report
I am delighted to be making my inaugural statement as Chief Executive Officer of OnTheMarket and am very excited about the future of our business.
The year under review was unprecedented due to the impact of COVID-19. We have previously reported details of the measures we took to mitigate the impact on all our stakeholders, which have proved successful, and these are summarised in the Financial Review section below.
As a business dedicated to supporting our customers and enabling their competitive advantage, we acted quickly to offer significant discounts amounting to £2.6m to support agents through the first lockdown period. Following the easing of national lockdown restrictions in May 2020, activity levels in the UK residential property market have been extremely high. The combination of demand built up during and prior to the lockdowns, a reassessment of housing wants and needs by many of the British public, continuing record low interest rates and the stamp duty holiday introduced by the Chancellor in July 2020 have all contributed towards significant activity, which continues to this day.
I have been particularly pleased by the assistance we were able to provide to our customers as market activity increased. Record site visits produced record leads to customers and evidences strong consumer engagement the portal now has, especially with the most serious property-seekers, while our brand awareness continues to grow. These results were achieved despite the significant reduction in advertising expenditure during the year.
· Visits were up 13% to 267 million (FY20:237 million). This growth is despite a decline in visits during the months of March to May 2020 while the first national lockdown was in place. Visits in H2 FY21 were up 30%, to 151m (H2 FY20: 116m).
· Average monthly leads per advertiser were up 22% to 117 (FY20: 96), reflecting strengthening engagement with property-active consumers. As with visits, leads also saw a decline during the months of March to May 2020 as housing market activity was effectively suspended. However, average monthly leads per advertiser in H2 FY21 were up 31% to 130 (H2 FY20: 99).
Our marketing activities have now resumed at normal levels. During the key period from Boxing Day through January 2021 we ran an extensive multi-channel marketing campaign, including TV, radio, video on demand and digital.
A new vision for OnTheMarket
As we move forward, our vision is to build a differentiated, technology-enabled property business providing services for agents, housebuilders, advertisers and consumers that offers ‘best in class’ products and platforms across the broader property ecosystem. Our strategy will be focussed around four key pillars, consisting of:
1. an engaging and relevant property portal;
2. software solutions to meet evolving customer needs;
3. the provision of market leading data and market intelligence; and
4. a leading property communications and marketing capability, both on behalf of, and in conjunction with, our customers.
Further details of these strategic pillars are set out later in my report.
We will remain true to our commitment to sustainably low listing fees, aligned to first-class service to all stakeholders and the provision of a proposition differentiated by agent ownership, currently at c60% following the acquisition of Glanty.
Some examples of our early but significant progress towards a more holistic offering within the broader property marketplace above are also set out later in my report.
Notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19, the Group continued to innovate during the year with developments to assist customers. During the national lockdown, we adapted our filters to allow consumers to search for properties that included video tours or imagery, a function designed to help qualify potential purchasers or tenants before they made contact with agents or housebuilders. This recognised the significant constraints our customers faced and the need to try and identify the most serious prospects, improving the quality of our leads and time efficiency for consumers.
In December 2020 we launched an automated valuation model. Users of OnTheMarket.com can now click on a ‘Value my home’ tab and, after entering a few details, obtain an estimate of the value of their house. Consumers are also presented with the opportunity to contact agents to seek a full, professional valuation, which in turn supports the provision of high-quality leads to our customers.
In response to COVID-19, during the first half of the year the Group chose to suspend conversion activity of those agents on free or discounted listing contracts. The decision was made in order to further support agents given the financial stress and uncertainty that weighed on their businesses. In April 2020, we introduced new full-tariff contracts, albeit with an initial free listing period to September 2020 to provide support whilst the market recovered, which offered agents shares in the Company alongside their listing agreements. These contracts provide for the issue of a number of initial welcome shares, with additional shares to be issued based on fees paid to OnTheMarket up to 31 August 2022.
In the second half of the year, once agency markets had reopened and housing transactions started to complete, we restarted the paused conversion process. As expected, not all those on free of charge listing contracts opted to migrate immediately to paying contracts and this led to the removal of a number of agents from the portal. We believe that it is only fair that the minority of agents who remained under extended free contracts are now asked to pay, alongside the majority who already do so and who provide us with the revenues that we have reinvested to continue to increase our value to them through a greater quantity and quality of leads.
Reflecting this strategic decision, agency branches were down 15% to 10,645 as at 31 January 2021 (2020: 12,470). However, the percentage of agency advertisers on paying contracts at the year end was 93% (31 January 2020: 68%).
New homes advertiser numbers continued to grow strongly through the period, with 2,042 developments listed at 31 January 2021, up 128% from 894 at 31 January 2020. Our objective is to deliver housebuilders increasing value through access to highly-motivated and active property seekers and the delivery of incremental high quality leads. We are pleased with the progress we have made in this area over the last 12 months.
Total property advertisers were 12,687 at 31 January 2021 (2020: 13,364). Whilst advertiser numbers declined slightly, the conversion or removal of those under free listings has led to a corresponding increase in agency ARPA. Much of the impact will be more evident in the current financial year, given that the conversions or removals occurred during the second half of the year to 31 January 2021, as well as that ARPA in FY21 was supressed by the customer support discounts which we offered to agents. Nevertheless, agency ARPA in the year to 31 January 2021 was up 21% to £150 (2020: £124). New Homes ARPA increased to £83 in the year to 31 January 2021, up 168% from £31 in the year to 31 January 2020.
Group revenue and ARPA were up 22% and 16% respectively to £23m and £142, despite COVID-19 related customer support discounts of £2.6m and the curtailment of contract conversion activity during H1 FY21.
The Group achieved profitability in the year as a result of measures implemented to reduce costs and conserve cash. In particular, marketing expenditure was down 51% to £5.9m (2020: £12.0m). We ended the year with a strong balance sheet, with year-end net of £10.7m before deferred creditor payments of £0.4m (31 January 2020: £8.7m before deferred creditors of £0.7m).
Further details on the Group’s financial performance are set out in the Financial Review and Key Performance Indicators section.
On 13 March 2020, the Group was pleased to announce that it had reached an out of court settlement between Agents’ Mutual Limited and Gascoigne Halman Limited and Connells Limited. The agreement ended all litigation proceedings between the parties.
Post year-end developments
On 31 March 2021 the Group announced a commercial media partnership with Reach plc, the UK’s largest commercial news publisher. This relationship is expected to enhance our consumer engagement as well as provide a valuable platform to support our estate agents’ brands via social media campaigns on a hyperlocal basis.
In May 2021, we signed a commercial partnership with Insurestreet Limited, trading as Canopy, a residential lettings platform providing a rental passport for tenants, enabled by open banking, which provides tenants with the ability to report rental payments to the two main UK credit agencies (Experian and Equifax) to improve their credit history and credit score. This commercial partnership will provide our agency customers with the opportunity for free tenant referencing checks. With the private rental sector currently estimated to comprise almost 6 million households in the UK and growing, this offers us the opportunity to create more leads and value for our advertisers.
Also in May 2021, we signed an exclusive commercial partnership with Sprift Technologies, the award-winning property data specialist. This will enable us to provide our agent customers with free Market Appraisal Guides which are powered by the Sprift platform via OnTheMarket Expert.
On 28 May 2021 we completed the acquisition of the remaining 80% of Glanty Limited that we did not already own, following our initial investment in December 2019. Glanty is a property technology business which specialises in providing solutions to the UK residential estate and lettings sectors. The acquisition is expected to allow the Company to:
· integrate Glanty’s products and services into the OnTheMarket platform; and
· develop ‘best in class’ products and platforms to benefit and drive engagement with estate agents, housebuilders and consumers.
Glanty is the owner and developer of software products and services designed to reduce overheads, maximise efficiencies and increase revenues for estate and lettings agents. At the time of OnTheMarket’s investment in December 2019, Glanty’s primary product was “teclet”, an automated portal for the lettings industry which manages the lettings process end-to-end, from the creation of a tenancy through to its management to renewal. In the period since that investment, revenue from sales of “teclet” has increased as its customer base has continued to grow and further new products offering similar efficiency savings for the estate agency sector have been developed. This includes a range of API partnerships which are expected to accelerate OnTheMarket’s digital commerce strategies, offering agents the opportunity to earn income by directly presenting buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords with products and services that they can purchase at appropriate points in their property journey.
The initial consideration for the remaining 80% of the shares in Glanty that the Company did not already own was £156k in cash and the issue of 1,528,832 shares in OnTheMarket, alongside the repayment of £1.4m of loans. The initial consideration is subject to adjustment post-completion (with such adjustment based on Glanty’s actual net cash/net debt and actual working capital position as at completion), which may result in additional payments or recoveries depending on whether OnTheMarket or the selling shareholders of Glanty are liable in respect of any balancing payment.
Additional consideration may become payable under earn-out arrangements based on revenue and EBITDA performance in the 12-month period commencing on the day following the second anniversary of completion (capped at £12m and payable in shares or cash at the Company’s discretion) and in the event that Glanty receives R&D tax credits from HMRC which relate to periods prior to completion (capped at £150k).
The consideration shares are subject to lock-in arrangements which restrict their sale save in limited circumstances. 474,194 Consideration Shares are locked-in for 3 years post-completion and 1,054,638 Consideration Shares are locked-in for 4 years post-completion, relating to certain sellers actively involved in the business. All consideration shares are subject to orderly market arrangements for a further 12 months after the above initial lock-in periods have expired.
Further information on Glanty is set out in the notes below.
As I set out above, our vision for the business sees OnTheMarket being structured around four core strategic ‘pillars’ which will drive our future growth, delivered through a mix of in-house developments, partnerships with ‘best in class’ specialist providers and, if appropriate, acquisitions.
1. Property portal
Following on from extensive estate agent, letting agent, developer and consumer work groups, we have embarked upon a complete refresh of the user experience (UX) at OnTheMarket.com, with a new look and feel. The design team, which is working from a position of strength with an already popular portal, will be focusing specifically on consumer engagement strategies within the UX to encourage users to visit the site time and time again and to improve conversion rates from visits to leads.
The introduction of several new ‘lead types’ (e.g. Automated Valuation Model leads and AskTheAgent) is providing new ways for consumers to interact with our advertisers, whilst at the same time providing a clear proposition which encourages such interactions. The design of new products and functionality will be focussed on increasing lead and valuation opportunities for customers.
We have embarked upon a large ‘customer journey’ project, highlighting and segmenting the different cohorts of buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords with the ultimate aim of providing tailored and specific content which is useful, informative, educational and entertaining for them, as well as conducive to encouraging interaction with our advertisers.
Our New Homes section of the site has grown significantly in the last 12 months and we are further developing this part of the business in response to growing numbers of housebuilder customers joining the portal.
2. Software solutions
As a technology-enabled property business, OnTheMarket will continually evolve and innovate to meet the needs of both our customers’ and consumers.
Our strategy is to become a valuable resource for consumers that provides detailed property data, intuitive tools and expert content to help make their property journey easier and simpler to navigate. We will adopt a rapid and nimble development strategy, driven by consumer behaviours that will provide intuitive solutions to ‘real world’ problems.
In parallel, we will seek to empower agents by developing information-led solutions that enable them to operate more efficiently and support their compliance responsibilities, as well as deliver digitally based campaigns and asset toolkits, all with the ultimate aim of generating more leads and adding more value to their own social media and marketing strategies.
3. Data and market intelligence
A key piece of feedback from the ‘Town Hall’ and one-to-one meetings I have held with OnTheMarket agents since joining is the requirement for more data, for, amongst other purposes, conducting valuations and providing market intelligence.
In parallel, there is an increasing focus by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team on portals to provide consumers with more detailed information on all properties listed for sale, in order to provide increased transparency to potential buyers about any property prior to making an offer.
To address these factors, in May 2021 we signed a commercial partnership with award-winning property data specialists Sprift Technolgies Limited (“Sprift”) which will enable OnTheMarket to provide significantly enhanced property data to its customers. Market Appraisal Guides powered by the Sprift platform will be available for free via OTM Expert and we believe these will be a very valuable tool for agent customers.
We will continue to innovate to develop the data-led services that our customers need to win instructions, convert leads and operate most efficiently.
4. Communications and marketing
As one of my priorities on joining the business, I conducted a ‘root and branch’ marketing and communications review. This led me to conclude that the OnTheMarket brand, marketing and PR execution would benefit from a new approach, with a particular focus on consumer behaviour to ensure that we can successfully compete with incumbent businesses as well as new entrants to the sector. In a competitive space, understanding who we are as a brand from the consumer’s perspective is crucial to gaining and retaining user engagement, which in turn creates a platform for our advertisers’ brands from which to create leads.
This has led to the appointment of a new marketing and communications agency, Aylesworth Fleming, with significant experience in the property sector. Aylesworth Fleming has provided a brand refresh and execution strategy for both the consumer and B2B client base. This will inform all areas including the consumer facing website, ‘above the line’ activities, such as new television and radio advertising creatives and Out Of Home advertising, and ‘below the line’ activities including social media and digital advertising campaigns, as well as the introduction of nurture path strategies designed to create long-term, targeted consumer engagement.
Our commercial media partnership with Reach plc is part of this new marketing and communications strategy; as the UK’s largest commercial news publisher, Reach plc’s brands ‘reach’ 80% of all UK consumers every day, through a stable of mainstream titles. In working with Reach plc on a digital campaign, we can leverage their proprietary contextual marketing platform to directly generate traffic to OnTheMarket.com, as well as motivated leads for our agents, together with supporting our agents in their own hyperlocal social media campaigns.
By leveraging this relationship, we intend to create a leading property communications and marketing suite, both on behalf of, and in conjunction with, our customers. The product is expected to comprise of a bespoke social media marketing support service to agents to enhance their local presence, promote their brand through ‘success message’ and proposition USPs, and specifically engage with local consumers. This local support alongside national coverage will benefit our agent customers and provide economies of scale advantages.
As at 31 May 2021, the Group had cash of £10.0m (before borrowings and deferred creditor payments within Glanty of £0.2m). The Directors have prepared and reviewed cash forecasts and projections for the Group for the next 12 months. They have also conducted sensitivity analyses and considered scenarios where the impact on future revenues is more significant and more sustained than currently experienced or anticipated, together with the mitigating actions they may take in such circumstances.
Based upon these analyses, the Directors have a reasonable expectation that the Group has adequate financial resources to continue its operations for the foreseeable future.
I am pleased to have joined the Company at a time when OnTheMarket.com has become established as a leading UK residential property portal, a significant achievement. I am particularly excited about the opportunities for further differentiation and to provide enhanced offerings to our customers and consumers, moving the business from being seen as ‘just a portal’ towards being a provider of end-to-end services for estate and lettings agents and housebuilders and a key value-generating element of their business strategies.
I have a clear vision for our direction of travel; to become a technology-enabled property business across the four pillars of portal, software, data and market intelligence and communications and marketing. Most pleasing is that my colleagues within the business share the same vision and the drive to succeed.
The operational and financial progress during the year to 31 January 2021 are a testament to the strength of the team and of the business. The return to a normal level of advertising expenditure, in conjunction with the steps we have taken since year end, including the acquisition of Glanty Limited and several commercial partnerships, and our substantial, loyal and supportive customer base, provide a strong platform from which to implement our strategy.
I am pleased to report that trading in the first few months of the current financial year is in line with our expectations. With the strong financial foundation the Company has established, I believe we are well placed to invest in our vision for the business, which will allow us to deliver profitable growth as we move forwards. Having achieved profitability in FY21, the Board expects to be able to invest further operationally into the business and return to normalised levels of marketing expenditure without damaging the Group’s prospects for the foreseeable future, assuming no materially adverse unforeseen circumstances arise.
I would like to thank all of my new colleagues for their welcome and for their support and I look forward to working alongside them with the common goal of delivering our vision and, in doing so, value to all our stakeholders.
Jason Tebb – Chief Executive Officer