Family homes focus boosts Bovis sales

HOUSEBUILDER Bovis said today that a focus on family homes in the southern half of England had left it on course to deliver a “significant” increase in profits.

Bovis, which has nearly a dozen current developments in East Anglia, including two sites in Colchester and others at Stowmarket and Red Lodge, expects to meet City profit forecasts of about �31million for 2011, up 68% on the previous year.

The group said it had benefited from an 18% increase in private completions and had focused on larger, more lucrative family homes in the south as first-time buyers struggle to get on the housing ladder. This helped average selling prices increase 4.5% to �180,100 last year.

Bovis said it had also been able to buy land more cheaply as a result of the economic downturn, and added that a strong pipeline of new sites meant it was on course to deliver further “significant” improvements in profits in 2012, even though the market was expected to remain “challenging”.

The bullish statement caused a 1% rise in the company’s share price, following gains made last week from other housebuilders, including Persimmon and Barratt Developments, which also reported healthy trading.

Chief executive David Ritchie said: “We are delighted with the improved returns delivered in 2011. The group is well placed for 2012 with increasing active sales outlets and stronger profit margins.”

Bovis had 80 active sales outlets at the start of 2012 but expects this to increase by five during the year.

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It had 568 forward sales at the start of the year, 35% higher than a year ago, reflecting stronger reservations for both private and social housing.

The housebuilding sector was hit hard by the slump in property prices in the wake of the recession but its big players have rebuilt profits despite low transaction levels.

They have focused on snapping up cheaper land, concentrating their activities more on London and the South East, where the market has remained more resilient, and on building family homes rather than starter homes.