Bellway Homes is tackling the storm in the housing sector while still keeping a good deal of canvas spread - and without losing too many of its crew
This is aimed at firms who have completed more than 1000 homes in the last year.
- Bellway Homes
If you can keep your profitability and performance when all about you are losing theirs, you are one hell of a housebuilder, my son. And Bellway has done just that: while its rivals are slashing their development programmes to the bone, this firm has suffered relatively minor losses, and when the upturn comes, it will have the financial muscle to expand rapidly. Part of the secret of its success is that it has broadened its client base to ensure that as much as 50% of its £300m forward order book is with housing associations. It has cut its overheads through merging divisions and has kept the shedding of staff to a minimum. For many at the company, it is business as usual - an application recently went in for a £1.9bn development to build 10,000 homes at Barking Riverside with the Homes and Communities Agency. Although Bellway has had to manage its costs more carefully, it has made sure that money is spent on the things that matter - health and safety, for example. The firm conducted a nationwide ladder campaign and managed to reduce the number of falls from height from 11 last year to eight this year. It has also worked with the NHBC to conduct regular health and safety audits and has brought its accident frequency rate down to 0.96 - an encouraging figure for a company that believes in doing things right.
- Countryside Properties
Countryside's reputation for building desirable, high-quality properties was recognised in 2008 by no less an authority than the Stirling prize judges, who awarded its Accordia development the most prestigious trophy in architecture. This was the first housing scheme to win the accolade, which is proof of Countryside's belief in the value of design. What's more, it has won more Building for Life Standards than any other private housebuilder, and has created healthy, popular communities that receive an average 86% approval rating from residents. The company has also tried to become more environment-friendly - last year 72% of the homes it built received “good” or better EcoHomes ratings. The recession will force it to draw in its horns for a while, but with planning consent for more than 5,000 homes in the bag, it is well placed to bounce back.
- Galliford Try Homes
Galliford Try's organisation into four strong regional brands has allowed it to keep the feel of a local housebuilder backed up by the resources of a national one. In particular, it is on the sustainability front that Galliford Try has kept ahead of the curve. As many as 95% of its developments have been built on brownfield land, and the company has set itself a target of achieving a SAP energy-efficiency rating of B in all its homes - not bad given that the UK's average is E. It has also trialled ground-source heat pumps, rainwater harvesters and living roofs and walls. Financially, it is set to stay comparatively healthy, thanks to a series of contracts with social housing providers such as Circle Anglia and One Housing Group. And Galliford Try's reputation for working with regeneration partners is such that the newly minted Homes and Communities Agency appointed it to build its first development.
- Miller Homes
Like everyone else in the market, Miller was hit by the slowdown in 2008, but it still managed to improve its average sales price from £185k to £187k. It has done this by finding out what its customers want using research that it claims is the “most comprehensive in the industry”. Through the use of direct marketing, dedicated websites and text messages, Miller finds out what it's doing right and how it can improve its service even more. The results are then published in its customer magazine so that a thoroughly transparent commitment to its buyers is always on show. It's this dedication to the public that has seen Miller become the largest and most successful private housebuilder in the market.