GRAPHIC/TIMES-AGE
Trust ‘cautiously optimistic’

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Trust House Limited reported a record trading profit and increased its community grants by $100,000 in the past financial year but is anticipating lower returns from its hospitality businesses in next year’s balance sheet.

Net profit for the 2019/2020 financial year was $5.77million, about a $200,000 increase on the year before.

In its highest return to communities, the trust allocated $4.5 million in grants, charitable donations, and sponsorship to more than 445 organisations.

Among the biggest recipients in the region were Pukaha National Wildlife Centre [$100,000], Wings Over Wairarapa [$80,000], Learn and Live Ministries Charitable Trust [$63,000], Aratoi Regional Trust [$55,0000] and Masterton Bowling Club [$50,000].

Trust House Limited board chairman Jock Kershaw said it was a “solid year” for the organisation, despite the impact of covid-19. The lockdown came just a week before the end of the financial year.

“Directors remain of a view that the company must remain financially strong so that Trust House may offer tangible support to the communities in which we conduct business and generate revenue.”

Although the 2019/20 financial results were still subject to an audit, chief executive Charlie Kaka said they were very pleasing, and provided Trust House management and staff with “immense satisfaction for the hard work and commitment demonstrated throughout the year”.

The trust increased reinvestment in housing and the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park over the reporting period.

It is one of the largest community housing providers in New Zealand, with about 480 rental properties in Wairarapa and Tararua. At the end of March, it had 158 tenants and their families receiving income-related rent.

Kaka said, on average, rents continued to be set below the lower quartile benchmarks.

“This significantly improved the well-being of families in our region and was a major factor in Trust House becoming a registered community housing provider,” he said.

The trust responded to the economic and social impact of the lockdown by freezing rent increases earlier this year and introducing additional support for tenants.

However, Kaka said the heated housing market was putting a further “squeeze” on the rental market.

“Trust House will continue to do all it can to provide affordable rental homes to low-income individuals and families who need them most.

“As such, this will likely mean increasing the current housing stock.

“There is a real opportunity for Trust House to now join the crusade to see how we can build some new homes and also continue to refurbish our existing stock.”

Since acquiring the housing portfolio in 1999, Trust House had spent about $26 million on it.

Work at the Copthorne, costing about $800,000, included a full refurbishment of the swimming pool, associated plumbing work, and earthquake strengthening of the pool roof. Other major work included completing the external painting programme.

The trust spent about $1.2m on insulation under its healthy homes programme.

Kaka said it was expected that the covid-19 lockdown had reduced profits from its hospitality outlets, and these figures would be evident in the next annual report.

“The covid-19 lockdown protocols initiated by the government resulted in our hospitality businesses being closed, the Copthorne room occupancy rate reducing to single digits, and cancellation of all bookings for conferences and functions.

“Fortunately, we have seen a significant improvement in the tourism and conference markets, and there is cautious optimism that this will continue.”



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