Trencherwood sees turnaround

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The Independent Online
TRENCHERWOOD, the housebuilding company that last month agreed a refinancing with its lenders, managed to cut losses from pounds 37.7m to pounds 21.4m in the year to October 1992.

John Norgate, chairman, said he expected 'a gradual return to profitability' as the housing market recovered.

He added that there had been 'real cause for optimism' since the start of the year, with a significant increase in visitors to sites - leading to demand outstripping supply on some developments.

The results, however, bear the scars of the restructuring and its exposure to expensive housing land in the South-east, which was worst hit by the collapse in the market. Turnover during the year fell from pounds 38.8m to pounds 18.9m, as the number of units sold dropped from 306 to 165, while the operating loss rose from pounds 863,000 to pounds 2.3m.

The group's land bank stands at 433 units, although it has a further 7,094 plots under option, of which 1,166 have planning permission.

Richard Brooke, finance director, said the group aimed to increase volumes to about 500 units a year in the medium term, although there is unlikely to be a significant increase in the current year.

Following the refinancing, under which the banks took a 70 per cent stake in the group, debts have been reduced from pounds 46.6m to pounds 22.2m while off-balance sheet borrowings have declined from pounds 20.2m to pounds 9.5m, although Trencherwood is responsible for a maximum of pounds 60,000 of that. Interest charges fell from pounds 7.4m to pounds 6.2m.

The cost of the refinancing accounted for the lion's share of a pounds 13.1m (down from pounds 29.9m) exceptional charge.

There is again no dividend. The group will ask the court's permission to cancel the pounds 31.4m share premium account and pounds 2.5m of deferred shares, which will help reduce the pounds 52.3m retained losses. The shares closed 0.5p lower at 7p.

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