Soho Estates, the property company created by entrepreneur and pornographer Paul Raymond, is nursing a fall in profits after its property empire was revalued.
The company, which is now headed up by the James family, including the late porn baron’s granddaughters Fawn and India Rose James, saw pre-tax profits plunge from £211 million to £44 million in the year to 31 March, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
Fawn and India Rose’s father, John James, who is managing director of Soho Estates, told the Sunday Times the fall was down to a change in accounting rules. He pointed out that turnover and gross profits were flat.
James said he was not concerned about a single year’s results: “The short-term view for me is 50 years.”
Fawn, 32, who is a director, and India Rose, 26, inherited the property empire, which includes Kettner’s Townhouse hotel and restaurant, after Raymond’s death in 2008.
Raymond had amassed swathes of London real estate using profits from magazines such as Razzle.
Soho Estates, which today owns flats, shops, offices and bars, last year unveiled plans to enter the trendy co-working offices market.
It agreed a deal allowing space at 58 Old Compton Street to be used by budding entrepreneurs.
John James said at the time: “This will be our first creative hive with shared office space that can be let to London’s fashion, media and tech start-ups at discount rates. We want to support entrepreneurs, particularly as Brexit negotiations get under way.”
The company also inked a deal with post-production house Warner Bros De Lane Lea, part of Warner Bros Studios Leavesden, which plans to develop a “world-class sound and picture post facility” to open in 2021.
The firm, which has worked on films such as Wonder Woman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, signed a lease for 25,000 square feet on Greek Street at Ilona Rose House, a major property under construction by Soho Estates.
But the James family has come under criticism for some of their developments.
Speaking at the “bottoming out” ceremony of the new Edwardian Hotel in Leicester Square in 2017, John James complained about Stephen Fry and Rupert Everett who have protested about the gentrification of Soho.
“According to them we [Soho Estates] are the villains of Soho,” he told the Evening Standard. “It’s not the case. We have resisted any chains so far — we are the ones who are saving Soho.”
City Hall had been previously unsupportive of Soho Estates’ plans to regenerate Foyles bookstore.
“Boris Johnson [when Mayor] just said ‘no’ and waltzed out the door. His views are capricious, ill-informed and under-researched,” James said. “How the hell he got to be Foreign Minister [sic] is beyond me. He looks like a buffoon, he talks like a buffoon, but he can’t have been a buffoon to get where he is today.”
Sajid Javid gets James’s seal of approval. “I like him,” he said. “He gave me my planning permission for Foyles. Sajid takes the same view as us.”
DMZ notes that the sharp drop in pre-tax profit is down to a large decrease in “other operating income” – from £194 million to £28 million, which is driven by investment property revaluations.
Turnover, which edged up from £28 million to £29 million, and gross profit, flat at £27 million, are probably more accurate measures of the company’s performance.
With some major deals under its belt, we’re not too worried about Soho Estates’ latest set of figures.