Housebuilder says oversupply in the US has driven down orders at Morrison Homes, while sales in the UK are up on last year

In a trading statement today George Wimpey said oversupply in the US housing market had adversely affected its US housing arm Morrison Homes.

The volumn housebuilder also announced today that it has appointed Ian Sutcliffe a director of George Wimpey.

Referring to Morrison Homes, the statement said: “Average net pricing on current sales is around 10% below the beginning of the year. Visitor levels and sales rates have been significantly below those in 2005. Total US completions for 2006 will be below those achieved last year. At the end of September our US order book is 28% below last year by volume and 35% by value.”

As a result of changes in the US land market in the past six months George Wimpey said it had renegotiated, and in some cases cancelled existing land deals, writing off some option costs.

By contrast, George Wimpey said that since August the UK housing market had remained stable and that it achieved sales rates above those of 2005. It said it expected total UK volumes for 2006 to be ahead of last year and that it was looking to strengthen “the key areas of land acquisition, cost control and sales performance”.

Despite the downturn in the US, the housebuilder remains optimistic about the future: “At present continued strong performance in the UK is largely offsetting the tougher trading conditions in the US. Assuming no further deterioration in the US market we anticipate trading for the year will be in line with our expectations.”

The volume housebuilder also announced today that Ian Sutcliffe has been appointed a director of George Wimpey with immediate effect. Sutcliff joined George Wimpey as managing director in February and previously held a number of senior roles with Royal Dutch Shell.

John Robinson, George Wimpey chairman, said of the appointment: “I am delighted to welcome Ian to the board of George Wimpey. Since joining the group in February this year, Ian has proved a very able successor in his role as managing director of the UK business and has continued to strengthen the business improvement initiatives that were put in place last year.

“The wealth of experience Ian brought with him from Shell and his strengths in cost management, marketing and procurement are already bearing fruit at George Wimpey.”