Abbey sees improving confidence in Irish market

Thursday 10 July 2014 08.31
Abbey said its housebuilding operations completed 390 sales in the year to the end of April
Abbey said its housebuilding operations completed 390 sales in the year to the end of April

House builder Abbey has reported pre-tax profits of €24.1m for the year to the end of April, up from €11.3m the previous year, and said the outlook for the current year is encouraging.

Group operating profits came to €20.4m for the year, up from €8.3m. Turnover for the 12 month period came in at €99.3m. The board is recommending a dividend of six cents for the year.

Abbey said its housebuilding operations completed 390 sales in the 12 month period - 353 in the UK, 22 in Ireland and 15 in the Czech Republic. 

In Ireland, the company said that the relaunch of its Irish business had gone well and improving confidence is evident across the market. 

It said its project in Shankill in Dublin is sold out, while the first phase on its Stocking Wood project is fully reserved. Further projects are planned, in particular "a very attractive site" in Delgany in Co Wicklow for up to 30 houses was bought at the turn of the year.

But the company booked another impairment charge of €0.2m to take account of the withering of planning permission and  de-zoning for development of land held at Mountmellick, in Co Laois.

Abbey noted that trading in the UK was "good" with sales supported by the UK government's "Help to Buy scheme". It said the current year has continued in the same vein and its forward sales position is underpinning its planned growth this year.

By April, the company's UK division owned and controlled land with planning permission for 1,320 plots.

In Prague, it completed 15 sales and it said that a new project in Stodulky will be launched later this year. It added that sales at its "well regarded" Silvenec project are continuing at a gradual but steady pace.

Overall, Abbey owned and controlled land with planning permission for the supply of 1,858 plots by the end of its fiscal year. 

Abbey said the outlook for its current financial year is encouraging and it is budgeting for a "significant" increase in activity. 

It said the UK housing market has been active over the last 12 months and Abbey, along with the industry as a whole, is working hard to increase production.

But it noted with concern that supply chain bottle necks both in labour and materials have emerged so quickly. Abbey also said that recent repots of declining mortgage approvals are a warning that sufficient credit may not be available to support what it called a more normal level of output.

"In short considerable uncertainty clouds the medium term outlook, but the recent welcome improvement in trading conditions will hopefully be maintained for some months ahead," Abbey said in its results statement.