Warning on slow housing recovery
Wednesday 04 September 1996
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
- 1 Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
- 2 Donald Trump decides that Baltimore riots are Barack Obama's fault
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
Bali Nine executions live: Indonesian firing squad shoots dead eight drug offenders despite outcry around world, but a ninth is spared
Keith Harris dead: Orville the Duck ventriloquist dies aged 67 following battle with cancer
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
Donald Trump decides that Baltimore riots are Barack Obama's fault
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...
£Basic (OTE) + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Stockbroker (qualified / p...
£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...