Recording a near $10 million group surplus, the latest financial year has been very positive for the Trust House Group.

A group surplus of $9.5 million, as reported in the community-owned company’s 2016-2017 Annual Report, is a “very pleasing result”, says Chief Executive, Allan Pollard.

“The strong financial performance is a significant highlight for the group and I think testimony to the hard work of our staff and some of the tough decisions that we have made over the last few years to reduce expenditure and create operational efficiencies,” Mr Pollard says.

It also puts the company in a strong position to be able to continue funding community projects and events, one of the primary objectives of the organisation, he says.

Based in Masterton, Trust House owns and operates a range of businesses in the lower North Island, including multi-segment bars, hotels and a boutique hydro electric scheme. It is also one of the largest community housing providers in New Zealand with around 500 rental properties in Wairarapa and Tararua.

In the last year Trust House has completed sales of number of businesses, and purchased others. The sale of Featherston Gateway (supermarket), in March, was a notable event and completed a full exit from its grocery store segment. Also sold were the Greytown Hotel and Flaxmere bottlestore land and buildings as well as the Empire Tavern in Feilding. Under offer are Bottle O outlets in Fielding and Pahiatua and when completed will be the last of the standalone bottlesores owned by the group.

On other side of the ledger, added to the organisation’s portfolio were, the Post Office Hotel (Pahiatua) and Jackson Street Bar (Masterton). These important acquisitions will add some real value to the Group and our communities over time, Mr Pollard says.

“We have and will continue to relentlessly focus on our core business and exit those parts of our business model that do not meet our core criteria, or are dragging the chain in our advancement of commercial strength,” Mr Pollard says

While acknowledging that the sale of some assets has contributed to a better bottom line, Mr Pollard says much of this year’s good result can be attributed to improvements and efficiency gains across the whole business model and an ability to sell assets that deliver value back to the group.

“Four years ago the company employed 400 staff, now it has just over 200; it had 24 outlets, now 9 plus the housing portfolio and hydro scheme.

“In essence we have reduced the organisation’s footprint but are now generating substantially greater profitability with the upside being increased returns back to our communities”

Community housing has been a major focus throughout the year with investment of over $1.2 million into the asset base. Recognising this significant asset, the company will be increasing investment in the coming year, Mr Pollard says. Already that work includes eight new properties being built as part of a housing regeneration programme in Masterton. Costing around $1.2 million, construction is scheduled to be finished in early December

It is Trust House’s primary objective to enhance the well-being of communities in which it operates by distributing back profits.

In the 2016 to 2017 financial year more than $4.1 million was approved to over 500 organisations via grants, charitable donations and sponsorships. Among the big ticket items was $270,000 for the netball court refurbishment at Colombo Road in Masterton, $120,000 for the international cycling event in Wairarapa and an annual $100,000 grant for the Flaxmere Schools Cluster.

“This is a fantastic result for our communities, but we want to do more and will work hard to continually increase the value that we deliver.”

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