Spencer McCarthy, chairman of Churchill Retirement Homes, said the company would have to increase output from 74 homes a year to more than 500 to achieve its five-year aim. McCarthy said that he aimed to expand organically, rather than through acquisitions. An office in the Midlands is set to open later in the year.
But he added that the company might consider following McCarthy & Stone on to the stock exchange if housebuilders are valued more highly by the City in the future. He said: "Maybe in five years we would look at listing, if market conditions are different."
Emlor was a successful regional housebuilder. Turnover grew from £200,000 in 1994 to £11.6m in 2002, when its last annual figures were submitted. Its profit before tax then was £3.2m. However, the shift of business strategy was prompted by the projected increase in the number of old people in the coming decade.
Spencer McCarthy said: "Why change? First, because Clinton and I have long experience working in the retirement sector. Second, the most recent census figures show that more than 9 million people are over 65 – that's 51% more than in 1961."
The company has budgeted to buy 16 sites this year and place 353 units under construction. It has nine sites in for planning approval, including developments in Bristol, Torquay in Devon and Falmouth in Cornwall.
Churchill managing director Clinton McCarthy said the firm intended to set up partnerships for future developments. He said: "We want to retain a core number of suppliers and subcontractors."
Churchill is not the only company that aims to challenge McCarthy & Stone.
Peter Askew, managing director of Pegasus Retirement Homes, said that it aimed to increase turnover by £72m to £100m by 2008.