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15 October 2004
This trading update is published following the end of Countryside Properties’ financial year to 30 September 2004 and ahead of its preliminary results.
The Board is now able to report that the Group completed the sale of 915 new homes during the year. In addition, 976 new homes were completed for housing associations and others under design and build contracts. Land sales realised approximately £45m.
As indicated by the Board in its trading statement of 23 September, profits for the year will therefore be well below last year’s record pre-tax profits of £36.1m. The audit process is to commence shortly and the Board expects to issue its preliminary statement on 24 November 2004.
Housing markets remain less buoyant than in recent years, which is reflected in current enquiry and reservation levels. Potential homebuyers at present appear reluctant to commit to buy or overstretch themselves to do so. Despite interest rates not being raised further at the most recent meeting of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, an uncertain environment still exists. Some homebuyers, we believe, are delaying their buying decision until interest rates settle and they can feel more confident about the outlook for house prices.
The Group’s forward sales are currently up 37% by value on this time last year. This is a consequence of the continued build up of forward sales on our larger urban regeneration projects which are due to complete during the current financial year and early next, and the roll forward of a number of sales originally expected to have been completed before the end of September.
If considered appropriate, we will increase our advertising and buyer incentives to achieve our sales targets until the market shows signs of recovery.
The Board believes that the Group’s valuable land holdings, its skills base, and focus on urban regeneration and brownfield developments leaves it well positioned for the future.
On 2 September the Board announced that it had received a preliminary approach led by the Chairman of the Group, Alan Cherry, with the support of the executive management, which might lead to a cash offer being made for the Company. The executive directors involved continue to make progress with their initiative. As stated previously, there is no certainty that any offer will be made.
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Information correct as at 15/10/2004