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Aberdeen boosts Ryden's turnover

Commercial property group Ryden improved its profits per partner last year as it grappled with a two-speed Scotland, lifting turnover by 17% in Aberdeen but only 2% across the business as a whole.

STRONG POSITION: Fiona Morton, who heads up Ryden, said property rivals are thinner on the ground in the north-east. Picture: Neil Bennett
STRONG POSITION: Fiona Morton, who heads up Ryden, said property rivals are thinner on the ground in the north-east. Picture: Neil Bennett

The independent surveyor, judged by Estates Gazette to have been Scotland's most active firm for the tenth successive year, lifted average profit per partner from £125,260 to £130,447, though the pot was shared among 29 partners, not 31.

Employment rose by three to 111, as turnover eased up to £10.6m and pre-tax profit marginally to £2.2m.

The share of the highest-paid partner, assumed to be chairman Fiona Morton, rose from £231,011 to £241,783, according to the 2012 accounts just filed at Companies House.

Ms Morton, who has headed the firm since 2005, said the Scots economy appeared to be performing much in line with the UK.

She said: "There is very little new development and a limited appetite from investors due to uncertainty, risk aversion, and the fact the banks are still deleveraging so they are not able to fill the place in the market they did previously."

The retail sector had been hardest hit, she added, with rents falling harder due to structural over-supply.

Ms Morton added: "In Aberdeen, our experience is that is an entirely different market. Rents are rising, premises are being replaced and new ones are being built to satisfy the needs of expanding oil companies."

Ryden's giant property rivals are thinner on the ground in the north-east. Ms Morton said: "We are in a very strong position, we have got a very strong and stable team, and we are making the most of that."

In Glasgow, the group's outsourcing contract with City Property, an arm of the city council, made another good contribution in its second year, Ms Morton said. Other cities had not yet followed the Glasgow model, though Edinburgh might include property in a bigger basket of outsourced services, she added.

The firm's advisory fees had grown by 5%, helping to counter a 4% drop in transactional fees during the year.

Ms Morton said: "People are more and more wanting to make sure they are protecting their assets, and using quite defensive strategies to maintain value."

Ryden currently has 12 graduate trainees. Ms Morton said: "It is an important part of our responsibility, but aside from that, it is good for the business to have fresh talent and ideas."

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