Cala sales through roof

House­builder makes record prof­its too thanks to sta­ble city mar­ket

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - BUSINESS - BY KEITH FIND­LAY

Cala Group chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan Brown said yes­ter­day a sta­ble mar­ket in Aberdeen helped drive the house­builder to record completions, prof­its and sales dur­ing the year to June 30.

The Gran­ite City has al­ready ad­justed to lower oil prices and de­mand for Cala’s new homes in Europe’s oil and gas cap­i­tal re­mains strong, he added.

He was speak­ing af­ter Cala, which has its roots in the north-east but is now head­quar­tered in Ed­in­burgh, posted a 14% jump in pre-tax prof­its to £68.5mil­lion. Rev­enue surged by 27% to a record £747.9, keep­ing the firm on course for its tar­get of £1bil­lion an­nu­ally by 2020.

Cala re­ported a 46% in­crease in to­tal home completions dur­ing the year to 1,677, with an av­er­age sell­ing price of £497,000.

It said the £1mil­lion plus mar­ket re­mained chal­leng­ing, due to higher rates of land and build­ings trans­ac­tion tax (LBTT) in Scot­land and stamp duty south of the border, but its ex­po­sure to this seg­ment was “di­min­ish­ing rapidly”.

Mr Brown added his voice to grow­ing calls for a change in LBTT thresh­olds. “We would cer­tainly ad­vo­cate a change,” he added.

Cala re­ported a “resid­ual im­pact” on profit mar­gins from Aberdeen’s re­cent eco- nomic down­turn, but Mr Brown said the com­pany was cur­rently see­ing good lev­els of in­ter­est and sales at its devel­op­ments around the city.

The firm has also grown its Aberdeen work­force by seven since the start of the year, and Cala’s boss said he was op­ti­mistic about growth prospects in the north-east. “It seems Aberdeen has now ad­justed it­self to oil prices at around $50 per bar­rel,” he added.

Mr Brown said: “I am de­lighted with the ex­cel­lent re­sults we have achieved at Cala in the 12 months to June 30 2017, in par­tic­u­lar the ex­cep­tional progress in trans­form­ing the size and scope of our busi­ness which has seen us de­liver our fifth con­sec­u­tive year of record rev­enues and prof­its.

“Since the 2007/2008 in­dus­try peaks, we have achieved vol­ume growth of 67%, sig­nif­i­cantly ahead of our ma­jor listed peers while still de­liv­er­ing con­sis­tently strong cus­tomer ser­vice and in­vest­ing in our land pipe­line.

“Fol­low­ing our record per­for­mance in 2017, we re­main on course to achieve our stated strate­gic aim of build­ing ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 units per an­num by 2020 and have the in­fra­struc­ture in place to de­liver on these growth plans.”

Cala was still en­coun­ter­ing “un­nec­es­sary de­lays” in the plan­ning sys­tem,” he said, ad­ding: “A more pro­gres­sive and con­struc­tive ap­proach to plan­ning from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will en­able the UK hous­ing in­dus­try as a whole to de­liver more homes and ad­dress the UK’s hous­ing short­age.”

“Seems Aberdeen has now ad­justed it­self to oil prices at around $50 per bar­rel”

HOUS­ING BOOM: Cala chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan Brown said the group had en­joyed a 46% in­crease in home completions in the year to June 30

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