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CALA Group (Holdings) Limited - Trading Update

CALA Group (Holdings) Limited (“CALA” or “the Group”), the UK’s most upmarket major home

builder, today issues the following update on trading for the eight months to 29 February 2016.

 

Highlights

-          Positive momentum  generated in 2015  during  first full year  of  new strategy  has been maintained into 2016

-          CALA remains on course to deliver another record year of revenues and profits

-          19 new sites (1,877 plots) contracted during the period with a potential gross development value (“GDV”) of £660m

-          Planning permission granted on 25 sites (2,038 plots) with a potential GDV of £700m

-          Private sales per site per week of 0.50 (2015; 0.37) with private revenue per site per week up 29% to £255,000 (2015; £197,000)

-          Strong trading during early weeks of 2016 with total net private reservations to date up 49%

‐ Group now 83% sold for FY16 and commenced forward selling for FY17

 

Alan Brown, Chief Executive of CALA Group, said:

“Following a strong end to 2015, we have continued our positive trading performance into 2016 and remain on course to deliver another record year of revenues and profits for the Group.

 

“While market conditions remain positive and Government measures to support the housebuilding industry have undoubtedly had a positive impact at the lower end of the housing ladder, we continue to believe that the most effective way to resolve the overall housing undersupply is to increase production further up the chain.

 

“Although support for affordable housing and first time buyers is clearly important, the requirement for greater numbers of four and five bed family homes is arguably even more critical when it comes to addressing the real housing needs of growing families across the country.

 

“With this in mind, our focus remains on scaling up our divisions to increase the number of homes we build and, with the infrastructure in place to deliver an annual capacity of up to 2,500 units, we feel we are well placed to play our part in delivering the family homes that the UK desperately needs.”

 

Positive momentum maintained

 

During the period from 1 July 2015 to 29 February 2016, CALA maintained its positive growth momentum and remains on course to deliver another record year of revenue and profits.

 

Total reservations have risen 49%, a significant increase on the same period last year, while sales per site per week have increased to 0.50 (2015; 0.37), towards the upper end of the Group’s historic

trading range.

 

 

Revenue per site per week during the period, a far more meaningful metric of CALA’s performance given the Group’s size relative to that of its larger peers, was £255,000, an increase of 29% on the prior year. This has been driven by an increase in sales rate, partially offset by a lower private ASP due to timing and site mix.

 

Trading during January and February has been particularly strong and, as a result, the Group is now 83% sold for FY16.

 

Government policy

 

Consistent Government support for the UK housing market has undoubtedly had a positive impact on both supply and demand, with the National Planning Policy Framework and measures such as Help to Buy providing significant support to both housebuilders and would‐be homebuyers.

 

However, while the Government has increased its focus on affordable housing and first time buyers via new initiatives such as the Starter Homes programme, the Group believes that this focus is misguided and feels that the most effective way to increase the UK’s overall housing output is to support production across the entire market, rather than just at the lower end of the housing chain.

 

Although support for affordable housing and first time buyers is clearly important, the requirement for a greater number of four and five bed family homes is arguably even more critical when it comes to addressing the real housing needs of growing families across the country.

 

According to research by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, commissioned by CALA, which focused solely on the English housing market, over the past ten years alone there has been a steady decline in the number of 4+ bed homes being built. However with the rise of the country’s burgeoning middle classes and a growing trend amongst an ageing population for ‘empty nesting’, more home owners and aspirational younger buyers are now demanding larger houses over smaller properties, to avoid overcrowding at home – an issue which plagues more than 700,000 English households.

 

Addressing this shortage of family homes is the most effective way to encourage movement further up the housing ladder while naturally freeing up smaller properties that are already within the UK’s existing housing stock, for first time buyers.

 

Continued land market activity

 

CALA has remained active in the land market during the period, identifying and securing high quality opportunities within the UK land market, at or above the Group’s target hurdle rates.

 

With the backing and support of CALA’s main shareholders Patron Capital and Legal & General, the Group remains focused on continued investment in its existing land bank which will provide the Group with a solid platform to deliver on its stated growth strategy.

 

During the period, the Group contracted 19 short‐term and strategic sites (1,877 plots) with a potential GDV of £660m and ahead of new hurdle rates set at the beginning of the financial year. The Group also contracted land with a planning permission or secured a first‐time planning permission on 25 sites (2,038 plots) with a potential GDV of £700m during the period.

 

 

Building on these sites, if not already commenced, will begin in the next few months once all remaining pre‐start conditions have been cleared.

 

Growth strategy on track

 

Last year saw the completion of the Group’s first full year of its new growth strategy, during which CALA doubled in size while achieving record margins. This positive momentum has continued into 2016 and management’s focus for the remainder of the year remains on scaling up the Group’s divisions to increase the number of homes we build.

 

CALA already has in place the requisite infrastructure to deliver on its growth ambitions and remains on course to deliver an annual capacity of up to 2,500 units within five years, resulting in revenue of c.£1 billion.

 

In the near term, the Group remains focused on delivering a significant uplift in return on capital employed (“ROCE”) as it reaches an operationally efficient scale, with a greater alignment of capital employed to profit deliv

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