Housebuilder Taylor Woodrow has turned in a stronger set of annual figures than expected, helped by its acquisition of Wilson Connolly last year
Taywood had expected Wilson Connolly to make £30-35m in operating profit by the end 2003 but it in fact delivered £47m.

The integration of Wilson Connolly into the Taywood business will lead to 300 redundancies by the end of July. Six offices have been closed so far, and another four are planned.

Once Wilson Connolly has been fully integrated, Taywood is likely to make another acquisition.

Chief executive Ian Napier said that he would be comfortable increasing debt to a level that would take gearing temporarily to 90%. It is currently 44%.

He said: "Wilson Connolly has contributed more than we had expected.

"We will be moving the combined UK business to building more than 10,000 homes this year."

Last year, the Taywood's UK divisions built about 7700 homes; its North American operations built more than 2900 in the USA and Canada. It is set to increase this up to 10% this year.

Napier made his comments after the annual results were announced on Tuesday.

Taywood posted a pre-tax profit of £304m, a rise of 30% on 2002. Turnover was nearly £2.7bn, compared with about £2.2bn in 2002.

Napier said that focusing 90% of the business on housing had boosted Taylor Woodrow. He said: "Everything is going swimmingly here for the first time in six or seven years."

The focus on housebuilding has included the sale of the St Katherine's Estate in Tower Bridge, central London, and the adjoining K2 development property, which went for £283m.

St Katherine's Estate was the last major investment property on Taywood's balance sheet.

The City was impressed with Taywood's performance. Bridgewell analyst Chris Millington said: "Very strong figures. We have been buyers of their stock, and these results have proved us right."

Taywood bought Wilson Connolly for £499m in October.

  • Taylor Woodrow announced this week that non-executive director Sir George Russell is retiring from the board next month.