“Excellent” first half growth for Countryside

Countryside says it has achieved “excellent growth” in its first half, with a 27% rise in revenue to £507 million on a 43% lift in total completions against the equivalent period in 2018.

During the 6 months to March 31 2019, the home builder and regeneration partner achieved 2,362 completions in total (combining its Housebuilding and Partnerships division). At the same time, its pre-tax profit dipped from £72.3 million in HY 2018 to £70.3 million.

Countryside said the main growth drivers in the first half were its affordable completions – up 80% to 938 homes following the acquisition of housebuilder Westleigh – and its private rented sector homes, increasing 68% to 608 homes.

There has been a 4% drop in the private average selling price of the properties to £377,000 as a result of increased activity in Countryside’s North and Midlands businesses “where average selling prices are lower”.

Its net reservation rate was at the “top end” of Countryside’s target range at 0.86, a minor dip on HY 2018’s 0.87.

Total completions in the company’s Housebuilding division dropped 2% to 473 homes. Countryside said this was in line with its expectations of new sales outlet openings and completions being weighted to the second half.

Private completions in this division rose 12% to 327 homes due to the phasing of construction on a number of schemes, whilst affordable completions dropped 3% to 132 homes.

In Countryside’s Partnerships division, total completions – excluding the Westleigh acquisition – rose 12%. Including the Westleigh effect, they climbed 61% to 1,889 homes, with a surge of affordable completions from 328 last year to 806.

Private completions in Partnerships rose 1% “on the strong comparative in the prior period” to 489 homes.

Countryside’s total forward order book (for both divisions) grew 49% to £1,037 million. This included its private forward order book, decreasing in value from £328 million in HY 2018 to £291 million.

Ian Sutcliffe, Countryside’s group ceo, said: “We have delivered excellent growth in the first six months of the year and have continued positive momentum into the second half.

“We see strong demand for our high quality homes and have underpinned margins with operational efficiency and the opening of our modular panel factory. We remain confident of delivering full year and medium-term expectations.”