Belfast Telegraph

Housebuilder Taggart fighting back with plans for 1,200 homes

By Rachel Martin

Co Londonderry housebuilder Taggart has said it's recruiting 300 new staff as one of the biggest comebacks in the province's business world takes hold.

A year on from the Taggart brothers' return, the company said it has over 1,200 new homes on at least three developments in the pipeline - leading to their current recruitment drive for staff in the north-west.

Taggart Homes already employs over 100 people, many of whom were employees for the old company.

The previous company, Taggart Holdings, went bust in 2008 with debts of £300m. Brothers Michael and John then brought legal proceedings against Ulster Bank alleging improper conduct, but ultimately lost the case and were found liable for a £5m personal guarantee. The new company said the salaries for the latest roles would contribute between £7.5m to £9m to the economy in Co Londonderry.

But Michael Taggart would not say what - if any - bank was backing its activity.

The housebuilder, whose son Nicholas is now in the family firm, told the Belfast Telegraph it had made around £13m of sales in Limavady over the last year. "These type of sales in a town this size are unrivalled, even in the Celtic Tiger years of 2006 and 2007.

"The company, where possible, is committed to bulk purchasing of material in advance of its new developments, which in turn allows the purchaser to benefit from the savings which goes towards a superior finish in the new homes."

In a statement, Taggart Homes said it had been "building exceptional homes across Ireland and England for 27 years".

“After working through the worst economic recession of the century there have been valuable lessons learned and tough experiences had, but with strong financial support they are back strong and with gratitude.”

Their latest recruitment follows approval of a development of 260 homes on the Culmore Road in Derry where work is due to begin within the next two months.

Two other major developments together totalling more than 500 homes are at various stages of the planning process, the company said. It’s also working on an 82-home development Plantation View in Limavady, Co Londonderry.

Taggart had been one of the most recognisable names in Northern Ireland’s construction sector. But it became one of the most notorious building firms after its collapse. The brothers featured in the Sunday Times Rich List in Ireland two years running in 2007 and 2008.

Michael Taggart became a well known figure in the Northern Ireland business community, famed for travelling by helicopter from Derry to Belfast for meetings. However, administrators were called in at the request of Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland in 2008 after property prices had begun to fall. At the time the company’s directors blamed its problems on the sharp slowdown in the property market.

In December last year the brothers lost their legal battle against Ulster Bank when a High Court judge found Michael and John Taggart liable for a £5m personal guarantee.

The company said it requires around 100 bricklayers, 50 plasterers, 40 painters, 40 carpenters, 29 electricians, 29 plumbers and five sales staff with an immediate start for its impending projects.

There was an increase of 30% in new home starts in Northern Ireland during 2015 to 3,223, the National House Building Council (NHBC) has said.

PwC chief economist Esmond Birnie said the pick-up in housebuilding did present an opportunity but added: “It’s worth noting just how far current construction output is below both the summer of 2007 peak and even the probably more realistic levels of output in the earlier 2000s.”

Belfast Telegraph