Top 150 housebuilder analysis: A tale of two reporting periods

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For some housebuilders the consequences of the pandemic determined their performance in this year’s top 150 rankings

This year’s top housebuilder listings bring to mind the famous introductory sentence to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. You know the one: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” No prizes for guessing who the principal villain is in this story: covid-19.

The reason for the similarity is that the tables, which are based on most recent published accounts for the biggest housebuilders in the land, tell two conflicting stories, depending upon what time period they cover. Overall, the figures show a slight – 1.6% – drop in turnover at these companies, to £29.4bn, with Barratt retaining its crown as the nation’s biggest housebuilder.

Profit dropped a little more significantly, with the average operating margin of 8.7% comparing unfavourably with 12.3% in the previous year, while completions dropped by 4% to fall below 100,000, at 97,640. A distinct downward shift then – but no obvious reason to panic.

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