03 March 2004
3 March 2004
This trading update is published at the end of the Company's financial year;
Westbury will be speaking to analysts immediately following the release of this
update. The preliminary results for the Group will be released on 27 April
The Group has completed another successful year as it continues to deliver
sustained growth. The Board is confident that the results for the year will be
in line with its expectations. These results will deliver an eleventh
consecutive year of earnings, profit and dividend growth.
The market for 2004 to date has been strong across the whole of our operating
territory, with reservations at a higher level than the same period last year.
The Group has a strong order book which provides confidence for further growth
in the new financial year.
The Homes business has continued the success it has enjoyed over a number of
years, with further progress in operating margins during the year. For the
financial year we sold in the region of 4,400 homes at an average sale price of
There has been no improvement in the land market as supply continues to be
restricted by the planning process. However, the Group is well equipped to
secure the land it needs to support its growth strategy. The consented land
bank, either owned or controlled, exceeds 15,000 plots and has continued to
benefit from plots delivered from its strategic land bank.
Material prices remain stable but the labour market continues to experience
price pressures well above normal inflation levels.
As predicted at the time of our interims, Space4 has moved to break even in the
latter part of the year and is well placed to take advantage of internal and
external demand in the forthcoming year.
The Group continues to focus on reducing gearing while maintaining the
investment programme to meet its growth plans. At the end of February, gearing
will not exceed 65% compared with 69% at August 2003.
The market is encouraging and, whilst there is growth in the UK economy, the
outlook for our industry will be positive. Demand continues to outstrip supply
and, although further increases in interest rates may moderate demand, the Board
is confident that it can deliver another successful year for the Group.
Westbury Tel: 01242 236191
Martin Donohue, Chief Executive
John Bennett, Group Finance Director
Hudson Sandler Tel: 020 7796 4133
This information is provided by RNS
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