Grainger sales fall as it reshapes debt

 
Marion Dakers
LANDLORD Grainer yesterday said its sales pipeline has dropped £20m year-on-year, and that it has taken steps to streamline its debt with a £100m facility with M&G Investments, an arm of Prudential.

FTSE 250 member Grainger, the UK’s largest listed housing landlord, yesterday said that sales between October and January dropped 32 per cent by volume on last year, completing sales of 216 units for £37.4m compared with 321 houses for £54.5m.

Its sales pipeline at the end of January stood at £76.2m, down from £94.8m a year ago, though its acquisitions pipeline has risen 55 per cent to £13.4m.

The firm, which makes money from both rental income and property sales, has submitted planning permission for three new build projects in London as well as one in Hampshire.

Grainger warned that the residential market remains challenging, in part due to a squeeze on mortgage approvals.

Chief executive Andrew Cunningham said: “We continue to employ an extremely selective acquisitions policy, only seeking out opportunities that we believe will offer sustainable value.”

Grainger has taken the first major step to restructure its £1.3bn debt pile by signing a long-term £100m loan with M&G, which will be used to repay part of its existing bank facility and pushes the company’s average debt maturity from 3.5 years to 4.3 years.

Analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove said in a note that the firm’s sales in the period were 1.4 per cent ahead of September’s book value, and that the firm “continues to demonstrate sound operational results”.

Grainger shares closed up 2.3 per cent at 102.3p yesterday.