Chief exec says downturn will propel firm into top tier of housebuilders, as 500 staff put onto four-day week

Galliford Try chief executive Greg Fitzgerald has said that the hybrid housebuilder/contractor will become a top-five housebuilder within two years as a result of the downturn.

Speaking after a trading update this morning, he said the company would move up from its position as the eighth-largest housebuilder as its rivals struggled to build at the same volume due to their high debt.

Fitzgerald said: “We’ll be much further up the scale in two years. How many other housebuilders are out there at the moment sitting on cash?”

Greg Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald: "How many other housebuilders are out there at the moment sitting on cash?”

In the trading update, the firm announed that its housing arm has introduced a four-day working week in a bid to cut costs in “an extremely difficult market”.

The contractor said that housing completions in 2008 were down 18% to 964 units and that the average selling price had fallen from £203,000 to £171,000.

Although the company said there was some re-emergence of interest in the investor market in December, it said sales reserved, contracted or completed at 31 December were down 40% to £281m, compared with £473m the previous year.

It said that for the financial year to 30 June 2009 it had secured 75% of projected sales compared to 65% at this point last year.

The company said that it was countering the affects of the deteriorating economy by focusing on construction markets in the public sector.

It said that 91% of its £1.7bn order book at 31 December was in the public sector and that it has secured 93% of anticipated revenues for the financial year to 30 June 2009.

Galliford Try confirmed that there will be a writedown of £50m in its half-year results.