Homebuilder Abbey sees profits slip amid 'patchy' UK market
LISTED Irish housebuilder Abbey has said that market conditions in the UK remain “patchy”, with lower-priced homes being sold quickest.
The company, which makes the bulk of its sales in Britain, said its operating profits fell to €21.4m in the six months to the end of October.
The figure compared with a €23.9m operating profit in the first half of the previous financial year.
It said it completed a total of 293 sales in the latest period, including 233 in the UK and 36 in Ireland. It also sold 24 properties in Czechia.
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Abbey is currently working on five sites in Ireland. They are at locations including Dunshaughlin and Navan in Co Meath, while it has also started a project in Portlaoise.
“Sales have been good and we are expecting further positive progress over the next few months,” it said of its Irish operations.
Revenue in the first half of Abbey’s financial year slipped to €103.6m from €110.7m a year earlier.
Abbey, whose executive chairman is Charles Gallagher, said trading in the UK had been “satisfactory” over the past six months.
“Margins have held up well on a reduced turnover, reflecting a higher proportion of affordable homes in our sales mix,” the company noted. “Forward sales are at a level consistent with our year-end targets.” It added cost pressures were contained for now.
Abbey also owns a plant hire business, which it said generated a profit of €923,000 in the first half of the financial year.
Abbey, which is more than 80pc owned by Gallagher family members, also bought back €6.5m worth of shares in the company in the six months to October. Mr Gallagher has so far resisted calls from some small shareholders to take the firm private.
Speaking after the company’s annual general meeting in October, Mr Gallagher also said that it hopes to more than quadruple its number of completions in Ireland over the next number of years, to as many as 400 units per annum, as it increasingly focuses on this market rather than the UK for growth.
He added that Abbey expects to complete 100 units in Ireland in the current financial year.
The highest number of annual completions Abbey ever had in Ireland was about 400, which was achieved around 20 years ago.
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