Wimpey upbeat about house market prospects

George Wimpey, the UK's biggest house-builder, yesterday added its voice to the growing chorus seeing the current strength in the housing market spreading out from the South-east to the rest of the country. Joe Dwyer, the chairman and chief executive, said the election, the Budget and higher interest rates had all passed without any real detrimental effect on consumer confidence.

Echoing very closely comments made by rivals Persimmon on Monday, Mr Dwyer said new house price inflation was running at 6 to 7 per cent in the South-east, dropping to only 1 to 2 per cent in the North and Scotland.

He painted a bullish outlook for the market, even though the growth rate could be cut in two next year, as the Government took action to dampen consumer spending, he said. "It is reasonable to assume that house price inflation will halve to 3 to 4 per cent, but I would still suggest that is a very acceptable background against which to trade."

Mr Dwyer's comments came as Wimpey revealed a turnaround in its interim results to June, with profits of pounds 12.5m replacing losses of pounds 8.6m last time, boosted by a full six months' inclusion of the McLean Homes operation acquired in an asset swap with Tarmac in March 1996. The half-way dividend, which is being held at 2p a share, is covered by earnings for the first time since the late 1980s.

The group revealed it was ready to sell its Ardel housing land development operation in Australia as part of a disposal programme which has seen gearing drop from 57 per cent to 51 per cent since June 1996. Net assets at Ardel are worth around A$60m (pounds 28m). If a sale is agreed this year, as expected, it would swell currently planned disposal proceeds of pounds 50m for 1997. A further pounds 80m of assets remain for disposal after that.

Mr Dwyer also revealed that Wimpey was looking to break out of mid-market private house-building, which became the group's core business after swapping its quarrying and contracting interest in last year's Tarmac deal. Mr Dwyer said they would look at acquisitions or organic growth in the markets for both luxury homes and "customised" units as part of urban renewal programmes and might contemplate a move back into sheltered housing, which many groups backed out of in the late 1980s.

Group completions rose 7 per cent to 6,148 in the first half, boosted by a 50 per cent increase in overseas operations, principally Morrison Homes trading in five US states, which broke even for the first time for several years.

Mr Dwyer forecast that the original Wimpey Homes business would be back up to 6,000 completions by next year, with McLean following the year after.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London