But housebuilder says it has “consciously” slowed land buying and is looking for cost savings in response to market downturn

Vistry has said the value of its forward sales had soared 70% at the end of 2022 compared to the year before, despite the fourth quarter downturn in the housing market, showing the impact of its merger with Countryside.

Reporting an end of year trading update following a week of gloomy figures from rivals including Barratt, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Crest Nicholson and Gleeson, Vistry said its forward sales position had grown to £4.6bn from £2.7bn the year before.

But the business said it had consciously slowed its land buying activity and was looking at “cost reduction opportunities in its supply chain” in response to the slowing market at the end of last year.

Vistry said it will report adjusted pre-tax profit for the calendar year of £418m – £1m more than predicted and up a fifth on 2021 – and that its net cash position was ahead of expectations.


Chief executive Greg Fitzgerald said he is expecting buyers’ sentiment to improve in the coming months

The business said its focus on partnerships housing – developing homes predominantly for public sector and housing association clients – meant it could deliver “resilient” and “less cyclical” performance which was “less sensitive to levels of open market demand”.

The firm added in the trading update that it was on course to deliver the promised £50m of “synergy” saving from the November takeover of Countryside, which it has previously admitted will see the departure of around 100 staff.

Vistry’s completions in its housebuilding division rose by 3% in the year to 6,774 homes, while the number of homes built by the partnerships business – now massively expanded again with the Countryside purchase – increased 17.6% to 2,455 homes.

The boss of the combined partnerships business – now known as Countryside Partnerships – told sister title Housing Today in November the merger had brought the division’s growth plans forward by seven years and that further expansion was planned, in spite of the economic outlook.

However, Vistry said it was not immune from the downturn seen in the fourth quarter, and that forward sales in the housebuilding business specifically had dropped 24% from £1.3bn at the end of 2021 to £1bn now, after private housing reservations per site per week dropped to 0.46. Vistry said: “In the fourth quarter we saw demand for private sales reduce significantly reflecting the heightened level of macro uncertainty and step-up in mortgage costs.” It added the reservation rate for the year was 0.71, compared to 0.76.

Chief executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “It is too early in the current year to predict the outturn for private sales, however I remain cautiously optimistic that buyer sentiment will improve over the coming months.”

The firm is due to release its 2022 results on 22 March.