Housebuilder says number of reservations sinks by two-thirds
Sales at Bellway have fallen by more than two-thirds since the introduction of lockdown, the firm said in a trading update today.
The housebuilder said demand was now gradually picking up given the reopening of sales centres but that it still expected “year-on-year sales activity to be severely constrained until a time when lockdown restrictions are further lifted”.
Bellway said it had taken 71 reservations a week in the period from 23 March, the date when the lockdown started, to the end of May, compared to 231 a week in the same period last year – a fall of 69%.
The firm struck a notably more cautious tone than Taylor Wimpey, which updated the market on trading during the covid-19 lockdown last week saying it was seeing strong demand for homes.
In contrast, Bellway said land buying remained on hold “in general”, financial guidance was still suspended and it had temporarily abandoned plans to open new divisions.
But during the financial year so far Bellway said it had sold 6,721 homes in the nine months from August 2019 to the end of May, a drop of just 12% on the previous year, while its order book remained “substantial”, down by less than 5% on the prior year at 6,038 homes.
It said construction work had now restarted on 230 sites, equating to around 85% of the number it was working on prior to lockdown. But it warned “work is still primarily limited to those homes which are nearing completion” and that productivity was reduced by the fact only one tradesperson is allowed in any house at any one time.
Bellway said that all show homes and sales centre have now reopened, and its debt remained below the level seen at the same time last year.