Housebuilder says cut in interest rate was ‘not enough’

Housebuilder Westbury PLC has issued a gloomy trading statement ahead of releasing its half-year results later today. It says that a fall in sales, higher marketing costs and price pressures has caused a significant drop in operating profit and margin for first six months of 2005, and that the recent reduction in interest rates was not enough to make a real difference.

During the six-month period Westbury says it sold 1,934 units, at an average price of £195,000. The average price for the same period last year was £192,150. It said that despite the buying public’s short-term lack of confidence there was a core of buyers that would sustain the industry until the economic outlook improved.

In its statement the housebuilder said that its plans to increase outlets had been partially successful, but that it had been frustrated by a planning system that “continues to operate haphazardly”. It said that with no trigger to stimulate activity it expected the full year results to be similar to those for 2004/05.