Abbey seeing signs of improving confidence

Updated: Thursday, 11 Jul 2013 17:05

Housebuilder Abbey has reported pre-tax profits of €10.9m for the year to the end of April, down from profits of €12.1m the previous year.

Abbey said it took an impairment charge of €3.5m against property land and work in progress due to the continuing difficult Irish and Czech markets.

The company said that while some signs of improving confidence in the Irish property market were appearing, it cautioned that the supply of mortgages will determine the pace and depth of any recovery.

Its housebuilding operations completed 368 sales - 322 in the UK 35 in Ireland and 11 in the Czech Republic - during the 12 month period, with a turnover of €84.4m. 

This generated an operating profit of €6.5m for the year.

In Ireland, Abbey said that the re-launch of the business is now firmly underway. Since the end of its financial year, the company said that contracts have been exchanged for a project of 25 homes in South Co Dublin to compliment its scheme in Shankill.

Trading in the UK was ''encouraging'' during the year, Abbey said, with sales continuing to benefit from gradually improving conditions in the spring. It said that the current year is off to a ''fair start'' with sales in the first few weeks at a good level.

At the end of the year, Abbey's UK division owned and controlled land which had planning permission for 1,130 plots, while terms have been agreed for further land acquisitions.

Abbey said it completed a ''disappointing'' 11 sales in Prague, where the regulatory environment remains ''frustrating and slow''. ''The achievement of workable approvals is measured in years rather than months,'' it added. At the end of the year, the company owned and controlled land with planning permission for the supply of 1,871 plots in the Czech Republic.

The housebuilder said the outlook for the current year is for broadly similar levels of activity to be maintained.

''The gradual expansion of the UK land bank together with recent land acquisitions is laying the basis for faster turnover growth in the years ahead,'' commented company chairman Charles H Gallagher.

But he added that the ''overall weakness of general economic activity in our operating regions will continue to be the framework against which our prospects must be assessed.''

The board has recommended a dividend of five cents per share.