Current operations director to become CEO as John Watson appointed chair

Bellway’s operations director Ted Ayres will take over as the group’s new chief executive when long-standing CEO John Watson steps down from the post in January next year, the housebuilder announced today.

The firm said Watson, who has spent 34 years at the company, will move upstairs to become chair of the north east-based housebuilder, with the current chair Howard Dawes retiring on January 31 2013.

Ted Ayres joined Bellway in 2002, and since then has had roles running the firm’s Thames Gateway and southern divisions, before his current operations director position.

The firm announced the changes as it updated the market with current trading ahead of announcing full-year results to the end of July. It said the firm’s operating profit margin for the year will rise to “at least” 11%, up from 8.5% last year, with 6.2% extra homes sold, up to 5,226. Pre-tax profit, it said, will be “modestly above” consensus estimates of £98m.

Total reservations since the end of the year have been ahead of 2011, it said, with the order book up 3.4% to £441.2m.

It added it had seen 133 reservations through the government’s NewBuy scheme to guarantee mortgage repayments, but that the future success of the scheme was still dependent upon lenders’ product affordability and credit scoring criteria.