Entering into the spring season in 2016, the weather ought to be warm and the air fragrant with blossoms. However, as the weather has been uncertain and rainy since winter, many people drew the analogy between these meteorological conditions and the stock markets and property markets in the PRC and Hong Kong. To me, despite the winds and rain, sunshine and beautiful scenery prevails in the end. You may have noticed that the development of the industry has entered into a “new normal” state. A series of supportive policies for the economy and property market have been launched. For its part, Hopefluent has proactively encountered the market competition positively by practically pushing forward a variety of businesses and braving difficult conditions. Despite the ups and downs in the markets, I remain sanguine about the development prospects in the future. I would like to take this opportunity to recapitulate our progress in the past year and share my views on the domestic property market in the PRC.
In 2015, the Central Government has introduced a number of supportive policies to spur the property market guided by the core principles of clearing inventory and promoting consumption. Consequently, the business environment of the property industry saw apparent improvement and the transaction volume of properties in many cities rose. Besides, local governments responded to the changes in a timely manner by flexibly adjusting their property policies. Last year, a total of 41 cities across the PRC have cancelled or relaxed home-purchase restrictions. Currently, only five hotspots, namely Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Sanya, still impose the home-purchase restrictions. Moreover, measures such as the adjustment to personal income tax on transferring and purchasing personal housing and the deed tax were launched in the middle of last year and further stimulated the spending and thus were conducive to the recovery of the property market.
In 2015, Hopefluent recorded a turnover of HK$2,760 million, up by 12% as compared to HK$2,467 million in 2014. Profit attributable to shareholders amounted to HK$223 million, up by 52% as compared to HK$147 million in 2014.
Income of Primary Property Real Estate Agency Services Rises, Transaction Volume Reaches a New Record High
Hopefluent took full advantage of the favourable policies to grasp the opportunities in the market in a timely fashion. It pursued active development and consolidated its resources as it integrated the traditional business model with the “Internet+” business aspects to meet individual housing demand during the transformation of the market, thus its transaction volume has kept rising and it has achieved a good sales performance. In fact, the transaction volume of Hopefluent's primary property real estate agency services reached a new historical high. In 2015, the Group realised a total transaction value of primary properties of approximately HK$215.2 billion. The primary property real estate agency services recorded a turnover of HK$1,815 million, up by 13.7% as compared to the corresponding period last year. By executing carefully conceived plans over the past few years, the Group has maintained its leading position in Guangzhou. The Group has strengthened its leading advantages in the core cities, including the first-tier cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen and through continuously expanding into the new developing cities, it has developed a strategic business presence across the PRC. During the year, the Group was the agent for more than 900 property projects and its business network covers more than 150 cities in the PRC, enabling it to maintain a relatively high market share. The Group has secured a number of quality projects during the year, which have attracted the attention of the market.
Secondary Property Real Estate Agency Services Maintains Growth Momentum, Facilitates Flexible Allocation of Resources
The full implementation of the two-child policy and the launch of the provident fund loan policy have stimulated the home buyers who sought to improve their living situation to purchase properties, with the resulting trend benefitting secondary property real estate agency services. To tap the market trend, Hopefluent has promptly adjusted its business strategy by focusing its resources to promote the sales of secondary properties with the aim to capture the opportunities brought by the improving market condition. The Group has set up a team to develop the secondary property agency business and assigned members of this team to the primary property real estate agency business in order to create synergies and a win-win result for both businesses. Moreover, the Group had also combined the sales and rental businesses in shops, offices and residential properties so as to effectively broaden the sources of commission income from the secondary property real estate agency business. Through close monitoring of market conditions, the Group opened new branches at the appropriate moment and the number of the Group's branches increased from 290 in 2014 to around 310 at the end of the year. In 2015, turnover generated from the secondary property real estate agency business was HK$595 million (2014: HK$579 million).
Quickly Expand the High Potential Property Financial Services Segment
To further optimise the service chain, the Group has further developed the property financial services business. Apart from operating the micro loan business, the Group has also launched (P2P) “Hopefluent Financial Services Platform” (www.hfmoney.com) in September 2015. Through cooperation with China Resources Bank, the Group introduced for the first time a new quality credit-based investment product “WJ Dai” (「萬家貸」) with a focus on the demand for financial services in the property market, providing a secure and sound property investment and financing solution to its clients. The service has enjoyed an overwhelming response after its debut. This success shows how the Group again realised effective resources consolidation through combining its professional property real estate agency services with the internet financial platform, and its complementary collaboration with a recognised financial institution has clearly demonstrated that the security and stability of the “WJ Dai” assets is acceptable to the bank's professional risk management system, which represented the official launch of credit asset securitisation on “Hopefluent Financial Services Platform”. In 2015, the loans originated of the financial services was more than HK$800 million and recorded a revenue of approximately HK$51 million.
Promote Quality Property Management Business and Achieve Steady Income Growth
The development of the Group's property management business has become much more positive, recording steady year-on-year growth in income and bringing a continuous, stable and satisfactory revenue contribution to the Group. In 2015, turnover of the Group's property management business increased by about 19.9% to approximately HK$350 million. The Group has provided property management services for approximately 300 residential, office and commercial properties in Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Wuhan.
The Group regards the aforementioned four businesses as four major business segments, our ultimate goal is to achieve synergies in the development of these businesses transforming them into the Group's core businesses generating substantial income and profit.
In 2015, the Group has more widely applied internet technology and applications across all of its business segments. Mobile APPs such as iHouseKing (www.ihk.cn), Fang Wang Jia (房王加), Fang Zhuan Jia (房專家), He Ji Mai Lou (合記買樓) and HFmoney (合富金融), as well as WeChat public accounts including Hopefluent, iHouseKing and HFmoney have fully covered the entire business chain of the Group. We believe that although internet technology cannot replace traditional property services, the application of internet technology across our service chains can greatly enhance our competitiveness.
The property sector has been playing a key role in driving sustainable economic growth in the PRC. Looking to 2016, it is expected that relaxation in policies targeting the property industry and market environment will continue, and the reduction of inventory is set to become the main development direction of the property market. First time buyers and buyers looking to upgrade will also create immense demand for the primary and secondary property real estate agency service businesses. These market dynamics will generate excellent development opportunities for the Group which we will surely strive to seize.
Based on the above analysis, the entire management of Hopefluent and I have strong confidence in the Group's future prospects. By riding on our professional and innovative services and actively embracing market changes, we can further enlarge our market share, enhance the competitiveness of our core businesses and launch new valueadded services. All of these efforts enable the Group to improve its profitability, create values for customers and bring higher return to shareholders.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all of our shareholders, business partners, and our entire staff and customers for their strong support and trust over the years. I would also like to express my gratitude to our staff for their dedicated efforts and contributions in achieving growth for the Group.