Crest Nicholson boosted by state schemes

Share this article
Have your say

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson, which returned to the stock market in February, has enjoyed a rise in sales on the back of UK government schemes aimed at lifting the property market.

The group said that it has secured reservations on all the houses it is planning to build this year, while sales for next year and beyond are running at £145 million, an increase of 92 per cent on a year ago.

Crest, which posts its full-year results in January, said the improving market has been driven by the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme, along with the Help to Buy inititative, which offers loans to those with a deposit of just 5 per cent.

Chief executive Stephen Stone added: “The increased volume of reservations confirms the strong desire for home ownership that exists in this country and it is good to see that aspiration becoming a reality for many.”

Crest also said the higher reservation levels had been accompanied by some delivery delays and higher prices for certain building materials.

However, Shore Capital analyst Gavin Jago, who has a “buy” rating on the builder’s shares, said: “We believe Crest’s geographic skew makes the company a leading beneficiary of rising house prices in London and the south-east and cost pressures are likely to be more than offset by improving house prices.”

Crest spent nearly four decades on the stock market before being taken private by Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter and Bank of Scotland in a £715 million deal in May 2007, before the banking and housing industry slumps.

The firm’s flotation raised £225m, with £169m going to existing shareholders – including Varde Investment Partners and Deutsche Bank – with a further £56m used to pay down debt and buy more land.