Willmott targets regen schemes as profits jump

Grant Prior 14 years ago
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Willmott Dixon is hoping to hoover-up an increasing share of the declining public sector market while continuing its expansion in the private housing and regeneration sectors.

Group chief executive Rick Willmott outlined the firm’s strategy as Willmott Dixon announced a 37% jump in pre-tax profits to £8.6m for the half year to June 30.

Turnover was steady at £481m compared to £475m last time and Willmott is repositioning the firm ready for the fall-out from the Comprehensive Spending Review later this month.

He said: “Looking at 2011 and 2012, we know that public spending, upon which we still rely for much of our work, will be reduced and that the private sector is unlikely to be able to take up the slack for some time to come.

“If we are to maintain turnover at current levels, then we shall need to secure an increasing proportion of the declining publicly sector market – focussing in particular on health and social housing – and to secure a substantial foothold in new private sector markets as they come on stream.”

Willmott believes the firm has survived the recession relatively unscathed after diversifying into the regeneration market.

The company has also picked-up a string of BSF and academy schemes while securing a place on the new Procure 21+ to deliver health schemes during the next six years.

Willmott said: “Given the challenges faced in the construction, housing and property sectors we are satisfied to have delivered half year results ahead of budget.

“Perhaps more importantly secured order books have held up better than expected in our capital works and support services divisions, and we’ve made good progress in positioning the regeneration division to deliver future growth.

“We remain acutely aware of the impending cuts in public sector capital projects, to be announced in the October spending review, which will inevitably have an impact upon the wider industry.

“We are, however, continuing to take steps to position the Group with longer term projects such as the Dee Park estate in Reading, where we are on site to create 862 homes over six years, and Woking Gateway development, where we are in JV with Carisbrooke to take forward the master plan to regenerate Woking town centre.

“These, and future projects in the more resilient sectors of the market, where we can present a fully integrated approach to the built environment, will provide the Group with the breadth and depth of service to position us well until markets recover.

“We were delighted to have gained Treasury funding approval for over £143 million of new BSF and Academy projects now being finalised by our pre-construction teams. This was followed by successfully securing a place on the Government’s Procure 21+ framework to deliver their health programme over the next six years.

“The Group’s contracting secured order book now exceeds £1.1 bn, with a further £480 million under negotiation for which we believe funding is already approved.

“Our private housing company has seen notable progress, with sales rates on track at the Harmony residential development in Twickenham, and the sales programme now launched on phase one at Dee Park estate, Reading.

“With planning permission awarded at Brenley Park in south London and two further phases to come at Dee Park, we are starting to build some real momentum.

“Our joint venture agreement with Carisbrooke for Woking Gateway is the first major scheme by our Developments company. Woking Gateway is a mixed-use scheme intended to regenerate an ageing town centre and we aim to take this through planning and onto site within the next three years.

“It is a high profile development that may ultimately involve four Group companies – Developments, Construction, Housing and Homes – and is an excellent example of what we hope to replicate in other parts of the country.”

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