Warning on slow housing recovery

Further evidence that the revival in the housing market has yet to filter through to the building industry came yesterday as three big groups warned of sluggish trading so far this year.

George Wimpey, the UK's biggest housebuilder, revealed that it had slumped into the red in the first half and said house price rises were still patchy.

Elsewhere, hopes of a revival in the new housing and construction markets were dashed after Blue Circle, which produces half of Britain's cement output, predicted that volumes would be down around 4 per cent in 1996, and IMI, a leading maker of copper pipes and valves, said it expected the recovery in the new housing market to be delayed until next year.

Wimpey, which earlier this year swapped its mineral assets for Tarmac's McLean Homes housebuilding operation, displayed the worst scars from the sluggish markets.

Profits of pounds 1m were replaced by a loss of pounds 8.6m in the first half of the year. The original Wimpey Homes operation saw the number of homes completed slump from 3,512 to 2,718, with McLean chipping in 2,303 units, slightly up on the same period last year.

The group played down reports of a booming house market, saying some sectors were more active than others, particularly more up-market homes and areas around London. However, although Joe Dwyer, chairman and chief executive, expects sales to be down for the year, he remains optimistic that the worst is now over. "There are, for the first time in many years, real signs of sustained improvement in the UK housing market,'' he said.

That was not a message which found much resonance at Blue Circle, which reported an 8 per cent fall in cement volumes in the first half. Ian McKenzie, chief executive of the UK cement business, said that the expected outcome for the year was very disappointing in view of expectations six months ago of a good recovery this year.

He also launched an attack on Government's "abysmally low" level of spending on roads and transport. If spending continued at this rate, it would damage the competitiveness of UK industry, he said. It was not good enough to expect the Government's private finance initiative to bail the country out.

Investment column, page 18

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea