Real estate service provider Savills said on Tuesday that it enjoyed a stronger-than-expected finish to 2017 and now sees underlying results for the year to the end of December ahead of its previous expectations, as it announced that Jeremy Helsby will retire as chief executive at the end of the year after 39 years with the group.
Savills said that in addition to substantial commercial transaction volumes in both the UK and a number of Asian and European markets, the relative resilience of its UK residential transaction business, which achieved year-on-year revenue growth in challenging markets, was particular noteworthy.
In the UK, the group highlighted relatively robust occupier demand and continued strong investment interest from the Asia Pacific region. Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific and Continental European transactional businesses performed ahead of its expectations, with particularly strong results from Hong Kong, China, Australia, Japan, Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands.
Savills said improvements in these countries and in the UK more than offset a drop in the US business due partly to continued occupier uncertainty, particularly in respect of government-related transactions, and to the cost of its newly recruited capital markets team in New York.
"In the current year, against the backdrop of heightened uncertainty over global economic prospects, geopolitical risks and rising interest rates, we expect some tempering of the strong transaction volumes of recent times in some markets. Accordingly our expectations for 2018 remain unchanged."
Also on Tuesday, Savills said veteran CEO Helsby will be succeeded by the current CEO of Savills UK and Europe, Mark Ridley, from 1 January 2019. Ridley, who has been with the group since 1996, will join the board as deputy group CEO on 1 May.
Chairman Nicholas Ferguson said: "Under Jeremy Helsby's leadership Savills has been transformed into a leading global real estate advisor, tripling revenue and offering the full range of transactional, asset management and consultancy services to clients in the world's prime real estate markets. Jeremy has successfully both internationalised and diversified the business during his decade as chief executive.
"Mark is a highly experienced and respected senior Savills executive who will lead the group's strong management team through the next phase of the development of the Savills business worldwide. The board and I very much look forward to working with him as group chief executive."
At 0910 GMT, the shares
were up 0.5% to 970p.