Dividend to be scrapped after preliminary results show Anglo-Irish firm plunging into the red

Anglo-Irish housebuilder Abbey plc has reported a loss of €54.4m (£46.7m) for the financial year ending 30 April, against a profit of €16.8m in the previous year.

The preliminary results were hit by impairment charges of €58.1m against land and work in progress. Abbey will scrap its dividend.

The firm sold 467 homes last year, 338 in the UK and 129 in Ireland, with a turnover of €85.7m generating an operating loss of €53.9m. This includes a charge of €1.2m for loss of value of land and buildings.

The firm said that it had been difficult to maintain any reasonable sales volume in Ireland, with Dublin being particularly hard hit, although bargain prices were starting to attract interest.

At the end of the year, the group owned and controlled land with planning permission for 1,965 plots.

The firm's plant hire division, M&J Engineers, reported an operating loss of €1.1m on turnover of €13.6m, including an impairment charge of €652,000 reflecting a fall in the value of depots and €189,000 of redundancy expenses.