Construction News

Sun July 21 2019

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Government funds Japanese prefab builder to enter UK market

14 May Japan’s biggest house-builder is entering the UK market – with financial support from UK taxpayers.

Sekisui housing in China
Sekisui housing in China

Sekisui House has set up in the UK with £22m of its own money and £30m from the government’s Home Building Fund, administered through Homes England.

Sekisui House is considered to be a pioneer of modern prefabrication methods, building houses in factories and delivering finished units to site for assembly. In the year to 31st January 2019 it made a profit of £900m on sales of more than £15bn. It is active in the USA, China, Singapore and Australia, as well as Japan.

The Japanese company has taken a 35% equity stake in Urban Splash’s modular House business. Used car dealer Noel McKee, founder of We Buy Any Car, has also invested in the new partnership and will take an incremental 5% stake. Noel McKee invested in Urban Splash last year along with television presenter George Clarke.

Sekisui House president Yoshihiro Nakai said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to work together with Homes England and Urban Splash to establish our operations and help to create outstanding communities in the UK.

“Using modern methods of construction to build high quality homes with short build-times is one of our company’s great strengths. Our technology and know-how can help resolve pressing social issues in the UK, and I want to see us play our part effective immediately. These operations can also help bring vitality to UK regions, and we will work to make the strongest connections with the local communities.”

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Housing minister Kit Malthouse welcomed the arrival of the Japanese disruptor, saying: “Sekisui House bring with them a proven track record in harnessing the modern methods of construction that are transforming home building. Backed by government investment, today’s announcement will support our urgent mission to deliver more, better and faster home construction to ensure a new generation can realise the dream of home ownership.”

Homes England chair Sir Edward Lister added: “When Homes England launched last year we said we’d disrupt the housing market to increase the pace of construction. By helping bring one of the world’s largest and most innovative housebuilders to UK shores, we’re putting our money where our mouth is. By creating a more diverse landscape – where smaller builders such as Urban Splash get a stronger foothold – we’re rebuilding the building industry; driving up quality and improving consumer choice.”

Urban Splash chairman Tom Bloxham said: “We believe that there is a real opportunity in the UK housebuilding industry. We hope to leverage our 25 years of place-making experience and our recent investments into modular housing by bringing in new partners; having looked far and wide we chose Sekisui House from Japan because of the company’s unrivalled global experience in modular construction and shared values and philosophy that we are making homes not units, and a joint belief in the need for a green future.

“We are incredibly excited about the accelerated production of much-needed homes and evolving traditional practices as we embrace the benefits of innovative offsite construction. I hope it will establish us as the housing partner of choice for landowners – both public and private.”

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