Prowting powers ahead

BY WILLIAM GLEESON

Prowting, the south of England based-housebuilder, reported a 134 per cent surge in pre-tax profits to £9.6m for the year to the end of February, despite continuing political and economic uncertainties affecting the market.

The growth was due to the effects of a full year's contribution from Galliford Homes, acquired in 1993, and organic growth from existing businesses.

The company started 1,154 new houses, up from 644, as more development sites were brought on stream.

Although the housing market as a whole was still very uncertain, new house sales had increased to 13 per cent of the total market, up from 10 per cent.

The company had benefited from developing its Prowting brand homes on the same sites as Galliford. This dual branding of the sites would become an increasing factor in the company's strategy.

The company blames economic and political factors for a patchy market. One week things are looking good, the next they are down again, TerryRoydon, chairman, said.

"People haven't got the confidence back. There is still pent-up demand waiting to be unleashed," he added. "The Government seems to have lost its long- held view that it supports home ownership."

The reduction in mortgage interest relief and the erosion of mortgage support for the jobless had undermined confidence.

Mr Roydon said that land had become more expensive, but the company was confident it could continue to maintain its margins in the region of 10 per cent.

Turnover was £97m, up from £60m. Earnings per share are 7.8p (3.5p). The dividend for the year is 3.8p (3.4p).

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