Barratt thrives despite "challenging" property market


British construction firm Barratt Developments saw its turnover in the year to June 30th fall by 2.1 per cent because of a fall in property prices.

Releasing its end-of-year results today, Barratt blamed the four per cent fall in its average selling price on an "increased number of social housing completions and geographic mix".

The fall in prices did not impact upon yearly pre-tax profits, however, which beat market expectations with a rise from £378.4 million to £391.4 million.

"These encouraging results once again demonstrate the continued success of our growth strategy and the fundamental strengths of the group," Charles Toner, Barratt's chairman, said.

Barratt's position as the UK's leading constructor of homes by volume makes its turnover directly affected by the state of Britain's property market.

Chief executive David Pretty said that in the second half of 2005 "the housing market was challenging" but that in the first half of 2006 "sentiment improved and buyer confidence returned to normal".

Assessing prospects for the rest of the year, Mr Pretty said that "the fundamentals… remain good", citing "good buyer confidence, a benign interest rate environment and good employment levels" as factors influencing the market.

"These are underpinned by severely restricted supply of housing across the country caused by constant planning delays. There is an enormous need for new homes and every year that this demand remains unsatisfied, pent up demand increases," he warned.

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