Cheltenham-based Westbury was this year's winner of the coveted title on the strength of a series of innovative ideas. "Westbury Direct" is a new service that extends the customer relationship beyond completion day, offering a one-stop shop for home-related products, including financial services, home textiles and white goods. Customer focus is also demonstrated by a customer satisfaction survey conducted by NOP and a software system that tracks after-sales service. The Church View development of five-bedroom homes at Loughton in Milton Keynes is further evidence of its customer-focused strategy, as the houses feature reconfigurable internal walls. Westbury also invests in on-site innovation and has completed a prototype "Spaced4" house built from flexible standardised components. And there were no flaws in Westbury's financial performance, either: in 1999, turnover jumped 37% to £417.2m, and operating profit was up 47% to £52.5m.
Crest Homes impressed with its dedication to customer satisfaction, offering buyers of the 2500 homes it built last year a three-stage customer inspection and a comprehensive Homebuyers Guide. In marketing its developments, Crest prefers not to promote specific house types but to convey a sense of the community identity that it works hard to create. The Basted Mill development at Borough Green in Kent, a village community built on the site of a former paper mill, is one example of this commitment. The company also pays particular attention to trees and wildlife on its sites and has collaborated with the Woodland Trust to retain many mature copses. A division of Crest Nicholson, the housebuilder increased its turnover 16% to £301.5m last year. Operating profit rose 12% to £35.6m.
Barratt continues to build on its strong brand identity with the help of new designs, initiatives and an increased focus on brownfield sites. Barratt is pioneering three-storey homes on several sites, offering buyers additional living space. Meanwhile, its "Forward Through Quality" campaign augments standard site inspections, and new instruction manuals on site layout and material selection fostered consistency in the 9500 homes it built last year. Barratt continues to exceed the government's target of 60% brownfield development, reaching 90% in some areas. Its Pierhead Lock scheme in London Docklands is a fine example of brownfield development, as are its 12 office-to-residential conversions in London. Turnover and operating profit both headed in the right direction last year: up 13% to £932m and 18% to £118m respectively.
We were impressed by the high-level of commitment to innovation and the future issues that housebuilders need to grapple with
Very strong grip on customer service issues, which is extremely impressive
The scheme they submitted was the most impressive of the lot
Building Awards 2000
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Major housebuilder of the year (2000-plus homes)