Cala names former investment banker as new chair

Housebuilder Cala today said chairman Anthony Fry is standing down following a period of illness.

Manjit Wolstenholme, the new chair of Edinburgh housebuilder Cala

The Edinburgh-based group, which has set itself a target of growing sales to £1 billion within the next five years, named Manjit Wolstenholme, a former co-head of investment banking at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, as the successor to Fry, who had led the board since November 2010.

Wolstenholme also chairs specialist lender Provident Financial and is a non-executive director of Aviva Investors, magazine publisher Future and student housing specialist Unite.

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Cala chief executive Alan Brown said: “Her extensive business and financial experience will be invaluable to the group as we work to achieve operational efficiency by 2018 and deliver revenue of about £1bn within the next five years.”

He added: “I would like to thank Anthony for his significant contribution to the group’s successes over the past five years, during which the business has returned to growth and profitability, was acquired by Patron Capital Partners and Legal & General in a landmark deal in 2013, and which today is proud to be a top ten housebuilder in terms of gross development value. We wish Anthony every success for the future.”

Wolstenholme said: “I am very excited to be joining Cala and look forward to working with Alan and the management team to build on the group’s strong performance to date.”

In September, Cala said revenues in the year to June soared 79 per cent to £511.6 million, helping pre-tax profits almost double to £50.9m.

The firm, acquired by insurer Legal & General and private equity firm Patron Capital in a £210 million deal in March 2013, also said summer trading had been “stronger than usual” in the wake of May’s surprise general election victory for the Conservatives.

Last month the group unveiled plans to build 206 homes in Balerno. It said the development, at Newmills Road in the capital’s leafy suburb, would provide a variety of properties for “first-time buyers, to expanding families and downsizers”.

Brown has acknowledged that Patron and Legal & General “are not long-term holders of any assets”, but told The Scotsman in September that there were no immediate plans for an initial public offering of the business, which began life in 1875 as the City of Aberdeen Land Association.