Search for a buyer for firm’s housebuilding business is ‘progressing’
Countryside has reported a 17% increase in completions after it managed to finish work on homes previously delayed by the pandemic.
The firm said in a trading update that it was performing in line with expectations and that the number of homes finished in the three months from September was up on the same period in 2019.
It said: “During the period we completed a total of 1,280 homes, which included a number of homes that should have originally completed between July and September 2020 but were impacted by the national lockdown earlier in the year.”
The firm completed 1,097 homes between September and December 2019.
Countryside, which posted a £2m loss last year, reported a net reservation rate of 0.53, down from 0.81 the previous year, but said this was also in line with expectations.
It said a decrease in the private forward order book on the year-end position to £408m from £528m could be attributed to the fact it delivered homes delayed by the lockdown last spring during this period.
This was also reflected in the overall forward order book, which fell from £1.43bn to £1.26bn as a result of both private completions and the timing of developments.
The firm said that, while some economic uncertainty remains as a result of the pandemic and new UK-EU trading arrangements, its outlook was still positive given the sustained levels of demand. All its construction sites are currently open and its sales teams are operating on an appointment-only basis.
Iain McPherson, Countryside’s group chief executive, said: “We have entered the new financial year with a strong forward sales position which underpins our guidance for FY21. We continue to win new business as we progress our accelerated growth strategy.
“The plans set out last summer for regional expansion are on track and we are progressing the separation of our two divisions.”
Countryside said this restructure – announced at its full-year results on 3 December 2020 and which will see its housebuilding division sold – was progressing and was expected to be completed by the end of March.
The partnerships division delivered 902 total completions, up from 855 a year earlier, while its housebuilding unit delivered 378 homes, a 56% increase in completions year-on-year.
Countryside said its nomination committee was in the process of searching for a new chairman following the announcement of David Howell’s intention to step down from the role this year.
The firm is due to release its interim results for the six months to March on 13 May.