Lighthouse poised to close Exeter office in wider Brighton expansion

According to an announcement made on 4 November to the London Stock Exchange, the move - which was proposed in September and could see up to 40 people made redundant, was part of the company’s plans to consolidate and boost its Brighton and Stockport bases.

On 5 September, when it was first announced that the group was to close the Exeter office, it was mooted that staff could relocate to Stockport or to Brighton.

When asked how many of the 40 Exeter support staff were relocating or had been made redundant, a spokesman did not wish to comment, although it is estimated that the final number of redundancies will be significantly less than 40.

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In addition to undisclosed costs under the terms of redundancy, the move to Brighton has also come at a cost.

According to the latest stock market announcement, in order to consolidate its operations, the group has paid £1.06m to buy the long-leasehold interest of two adjacent units in Woodingdean, near Brighton.

This is where the group’s wholly owned affinity-based national advisory arm, Lighthouse Financial Advice, is based.

According to the statement, the cost has been met out of existing cash resources, together with a commercial mortgage from RBS NatWest, the group’s banker, for £507,000.

The group has reported weaker profits for 2012, in part due to getting its advisers RDR-ready and embarking on a hiring spree as part of its Lighthouse 500 - a business plan to boost the Lighthouse Financial Advice numbers to 500 over 2013 and 2014 - and paid £550,000 for an abortive attempt to de-list earlier this year.

However, according to Malcolm Streatfield, chief executive, the proposal is expected to “deliver operational efficiency gains” once the new functions are fully embedded from mid 2014 onwards, and an update to markets on this will be provided at a later date.

Mr Streatfield said: “The Woodingdean premises will provide a modern and integrated base for the group’s operations to deliver the substantial growth plans that are underway within Lighthouse Financial Advice, as well as enabling the group to establish a state-of-the-art training academy for the benefit of the group’s advisers and staff.”

Lighthouse: Key Figures

Average annualised revenue for each adviser rose 14 per cent in 2012.

Overall gross profit for 2012 was down on last year, at £55m compared to £60.4m in 2011.

Overall loss for 2012: £4.6m.

Cost of delisting attempt: £500,000.

The Exeter office will be fully vacated by 31 March 2014.