Belfast Telegraph

'Landmark year' for Crest Nicholson as profits rise and sales target met

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has hiked annual profits by more than a quarter after overcoming a Brexit wobble and reaching its target to sell at least £1 billion of homes.

The Surrey-based group posted a 27% jump in pre-tax profits to £195 million for the year to October 31 and said it was now on track to build 4,000 homes and make £1.4 billion of annual sales by 2019.

Its profit haul comes despite a sales hit in the months surrounding the EU referendum, when Brexit fears impacted buyer confidence and caused a temporary fall in sales and higher cancellations.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of Crest, said it had been a "landmark year" for the group and gave a bullish outlook for the year ahead, despite some concerns over the effect of Brexit.

He said: "The outlook for the housing market continues to look promising.

"While the UK's vote to leave the EU in June had a temporary effect on our sales volumes, the impact was relatively short-lived, with reservations and consumer confidence stabilising within a few weeks."

But he said there was the potential for slower growth this year and next if Brexit knocks consumer confidence, while he raised concerns over the availability of skilled workers from Europe.

He said: "European workers in the UK's construction force have been essential in delivering much-needed homes. It is important to the objective of increasing housing output that a supply of European labour is maintained."

Crest's full-year results show profits were boosted by an 18% rise in average selling prices over the year after the group shifted to more expensive locations and properties.

It sold 5% more houses, at 2,870, and notched up revenues of £997 million, with an additional £3.3 million of sales through joint ventures.