ESPC, the number one property marketing service for Edinburgh, Lothians and Fife, has reported strong profits for the third year running, while increasing its investment in key areas of the business.

Despite a slower market and a reduced turnover of £8.8m (2011, £11.4m), the company delivered pre-tax profits of £949k (2011, £1.6m), while making significant investments in new marketing initiatives, improvements to its digital service and a refurbishment of the ESPC George Street showroom totalling £200,000.

Mid 2009, ESPC faced significant financial issues as it struggled to cope with an unsustainable cost base, the slowdown in the housing market and the tightening of mortgage lending. The latest figures, however, reflect a continuation of the turnaround, underpinned by strategic leadership and long term investment.
Operated as a company limited by guarantee (not constituted to secure profits for shareholders) and set up entirely to maintain and protect the Scottish tradition of selling homes through a trusted and regulated solicitor, ESPC has strengthened both its financial position and its brand against a market backdrop of uncertainty and change.

It is now debt free, has a strong balance sheet and an improved cash position compared with a year ago, providing the financial security needed to continue to build existing services and develop new ones for a radically changed property market.

Malcolm Cannon, CEO for ESPC commented.

"As a company we are, in many ways, a barometer for the capital's property market. Our results show that while the flow of properties on to the market has reduced, the market is working well and in a strong place to build again.

"Three years of significant profit alongside the right investment has put us in a strong position. We now have the financial clarity to deal with the challenges we know are coming whether that is from other property portals and non-solicitor estate agents or from the market generally.

"We are not in the business to make money for a group of shareholders. Our objective is to provide an effective service to the general public as well as to our members and with financial strength we are now able to do a great deal more. Looking forward we can now review our pricing models, invest more in our marketing and develop new services that build on our strong brand and local presence with a greater degree of confidence."

The reduction in turnover from 2011 to 2012 largely reflects changes to the way in which Home Reports are ordered and revenue is accounted for through the ESPC system.