Bellway looks to stay south

Marion Dakers
HOUSE builder Bellway is upbeat despite flat sales caused by the gene­ral election and continuing economic uncertainty, it said in an interim statement yesterday.

The FTSE 250-listed company said sales rates stalled at around 100 homes a week in the 18 weeks to June, the same rate as this time last year.

By focusing on the south east, where house prices have continued to rise, the company managed to increase its average sale price by 10 per cent on last year.

It has also taken reservations on 1,800 properties for the next financial year, though site visits have been down since the general election.

“We’re in a hiatus period, we’re awaiting to see how things pan out next week in terms of the Budget and how Mr Average’s confidence is affected by that,” said John Watson, chief executive of Bellway. “If people are confident about life they make the big ticket decisions.” The company has bought up £151m worth of land in the period – enough for nearly 2,500 houses.

Despite increased investment, the firm holds £55m in net cash.

It still expects to deliver an operating margin of more than 6.5 per cent in its annual results on 5 August.

Changes to building laws could affect the firm’s growth, as the government re-examines local planning regulations. The firm said it is currently concentrating on land with planning permission already in place.