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Sat January 22 2022

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Ilke decides to speculate to accumulate

28 May 20 Modular housing manufacturer Ilke Homes is moving into the speculative housing development business.

Ilke Homes' factory in Yorkshire
Ilke Homes' factory in Yorkshire

Until now, Ilke Homes’ business has been making prefabricated housing units in its factory near Knaresborough in Yorkshire for customers that place orders.

But, under a shift of strategy, Ilke Homes will now also acquire land, gain planning permission, manufacture the homes and develop the sites itself, making the company a fully-integrated housing developer.

It has opened new offices in London, Birmingham and Bristol as part of the plan to acquire sites and has made managing director Ben Miller chief executive of the new homes and development unit.

Ben Miller will manage the new business unit as well as lead on the sales of the homes, while executive chairman Dave Sheridan will continue to oversee the manufacturing and development functions of the business.

Ben Miller was one of a team of four that joined Ilke Homes in April 2019 from Crest Nicholson, alongside Tom Heathcote, Tristin Willis and Matthew Bench, who are the executive directors of development, construction, and partnerships at Ilke Homes,  respectively. The quartet spent 10 years working together at Crest Nicholson.

Chief executive Ben Miller, part of a quartet that joined from Crest Nicholson in 2019
Chief executive Ben Miller, part of a quartet that joined from Crest Nicholson in 2019

Ilke Homes is still only a small company but it has big plans. Its most recent accounts, for the year to 31st March 2019, just before the Crest Nicholson quartet were brought in, it made a loss of £22m before tax on turnover of just £2.6m.

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Owned by private equity investors, in May 2019 it entered a joint venture with Places for People, which committed to buying 750 units, including 500 for sites it already owns and 250 for new schemes to be developed in partnership.

Deals like this – plus a £30m loan from the government, via Homes England – have made the regional expansion plan possible, the company said.

Ilke Homes now has a development pipeline of 3,200 homes, up from 1,200 homes a year ago.

The target is to make 5,000 homes a year by 2025, a level that would make it a top-10 housebuilder.

Chief executive Ben Miller said: "For Britain to recover quickly from Covid-19, the construction sector needs to be able to respond fast. Having a presence in every region will allow us to better support councils and housing associations, which have a real opportunity to speed up their housing delivery with high-quality, eco-friendly homes that can be manufactured and installed quickly, while fully-complying with social-distancing measures.

"Having a turnkey offer – where we acquire land, get consent and supply finished modules – will enable us to better support clients who want to bring homes to the market more quickly. The in-house team we've established has huge experience and while there will absolutely be challenging times to come, I am confident we are well-placed to tackle them head-on."

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