NAHL Group: Pre Close Trading Update
NAHL, the leading UK consumer marketing business focused on the UK legal services market, today provides a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2017.
The Group has continued to trade well and is expected to deliver underlying operating profit in line with the Board’s expectations. Our finance charge has come in at a lower level due to prudent capital allocation and our balance sheet remains strong. Consequently, underlying earnings per share for FY17 are expected to be ahead of Board expectations.
In the fourth quarter of the year the Group’s Personal Injury division, National Accident Helpline (NAH) achieved a stronger performance than expected, with the division performing particularly well in December. NAH has continued to make good progress following the establishment of its second Alternative Business Structure (“ABS”) and, though early, both ABS’ are trading well. As previously guided, the opportunity to drive future growth means that the investment required to fund cases as part of the ABS’ is expected to increase in 2018. Alongside the successful relaunch of the NAH brand, these initiatives have enabled the Group to continue delivering a high quality service to its Panel Law Firm partners and the number of enquiries generated has grown 8.4% per cent year on year.
Whilst there have been no specific developments regarding the previously announced regulatory changes by the Ministry of Justice, the Board expects the changes to come into effect no earlier than April 2019. The Group continues to evolve its business model to optimise the opportunity presented by the changes.
Bush, the Group’s Critical Care division, experienced slightly softer trading in the fourth quarter against expectations. In the quarter management focused on securing a number of strategic business development opportunities that are expected to contribute to revenue in 2018. The Board remains confident about the future prospects of this division.
Fitzalan, the Group’s Residential Property division, delivered a creditable performance although trading conditions remain challenging.
The Group also made a £0.8m release from the legacy pre-LASPO ATE provision which will increase reported earnings per share.
NAHL will announce its Final Results for the year ended 31 December 2017 on 20 March 2018.