Housebuilder expects to increase turnover £65m this year, despite predicting house price inflation of only 4%.
Bovis Homes aims to increase turnover £65m this year, despite conservative predictions for the growth of the housing market.

Chief executive Malcolm Harris said he expected turnover to increase 14-15% in 2003. The housebuilder announced this week that turnover for the year ending 31 December was £461.3m, up 28.3% on 2001.

However, Harris said the company believed house price inflation would fall to 4% this year, below the predictions of rivals, which expect it to fall to 5-10%.

He said: "The first quarter of 2002 was so exceptional that nobody expects it to be replicated. It was the strongest January that I can remember – and I was around in the 1970s and 1980s."

Harris added that uncertainty over the effect of a probable war with Iraq might also reduce demand. Harris said Bovis could cushion any blow because it had already pre-sold a large number of houses ahead of construction.

The housebuilder intends to increase the turnover of its smallest divisions by 25%. This will be fuelled by a recruitment drive.

Harris said: "We are recruiting quite heavily. We are trying to recruit for our northern, eastern and retirement businesses."

Bovis' pre-tax profit for 2002 was £105m, an increase of 31% from the £80m it made in 2001. The housebuilder is now ranked 105th among listed companies for pre-tax profitability. It had an operating margin of 23.8%.

Harris said: "The group has enhanced shareholder value by delivering a record pre-tax profit, a high return on capital employed, increased land investment and a productive cash flow." Bovis increased the dividend it paid on 2001 by 10.2% to 14p.

The company also has 10,716 plots of land with planning consent, up by 251 on 2001.

Bovis Homes is also talking to authorities obout the recommendations of the Higgs report on the role of non-executive directors. The report offers guidance on how to avoid mismanagement and corruption but Bovis said that some of the recommendations could hinder effective management.