Housebuilder and contractor will focus on improving UK housing business after operating profit in UK falls 5%

Taylor Woodrow said it was going to focus on improving the performance of its UK business after posting a slight dip in profit.

Pre-tax profit slipped 1% to £406m for the year ending 31 December 2006 though revenues grew 3% to £496m. The market gave a less than positive reaction to the news with share price falling 1.6% to 425.75p per share though it had rallied again by mid morning.

Improving the UK housing business will now be the focus of new chief executive Ian Smith. Operating profit at the UK business fell 5% in the period and operating margin dropped to 12% from 14.2% the previous year.

The US business put in a stronger performance although current trading conditions remain tough. Operating profit in 2006 increased 11% to £221.3m while home completions rose 14% to 4,492. Earlier this year the company said it had made a £20m writedown on its US landbank

Smith said: “My initial review of Taylor Woodrow's operations has confirmed my impression of a business with strong potential for growth in the medium term. The UK has delivered in line with expectations in 2006. We have a number of initiatives in place to improve our performance and this will be our UK management team's key focus."

"In North America, we have achieved an excellent performance in 2006 as a result of the strategy of maximising forward sales during 2005. We continue to be confident in the prospects for the business in the medium-term, but expect to see significant reductions in both operating margin and return on capital employed during 2007.”