Turnover rose 24% last year but Holloway White Allom warns luxury market will be flat in 2009 before picking up in early 2010

Luxury contractor Holloway White Allom has said its super-rich clients have slowed spending on major refurbishment projects.

Speaking after the company released its 2008 results, chief executive Bob Cole said the company was performing well overall but the climate of economic uncertainty meant clients had become cautious.

Although turnover rose 24% last year from £65.3m to £80.5m, Cole said that sales would be broadly flat this year.

He said: “Everyone has been affected, no matter how rich you are. Jobs have been put on the back burner because there are not so many liquid assets around. It has been across all of our clients, irrespective of their nationality or background.”

The company's clients reportedly include Roman Abramovich, Lakshmi Mittal, Elton John and Jemima Khan.

Elton John
The firm's famous clients include Elton John as well as Jemima Khan and Roman Abramovich

It marks a change of tone since last September, when Cole told Building the company did not expect to suffer as much in the downturn as some of its rivals, thanks to the make-up of its client base. At the time, three-quarters of its 500 clients were billionaires.

“Things have got quite a bit worse since then. Just look at the latest Sunday Times Rich List - it tells its own story,” said Cole.

Pre-tax profit at Holloway White Allom fell 20% to £4m as a result of administrative expenses that included the departure of three directors and costs associated with growing the business.

Despite the slowdown in major refurbishment work, Cole said the firm's associated businesses, which include audio-visual specialist Gibson Music, had performed well as clients kept spending on upgrade work.

The company ended the year with £4.6m in cash, compared with £5.7m in 2007, and the pay of the highest-paid director fell 22% from £252,129 to £195,646.