Galliford Try took over Miller Group’s loss making construction division on 9th July 2014 for £16.57m.
The first-half losses at Miller Construction continued a pattern seen the previous year, in which it reported a £4.6m operating loss for the full year. This year's construction losses were again attributed to “continuing delays on a limited number of historic contracts that had been procured competitively on the basis of price”.
At group level, Miller more than doubled its pre-tax profits in the six months to 30th June 2014, making £8.3m profit, up from £4.0m for the same period in 2013.
Thanks to its house-building operations being busier, turnover increased by 40% to £175.4m (2013 H1: £125.1m).
Housing completions were 28% higher at 855 units (2013 H1: 667 units) and the average selling price improved 12% £198,000 (2013: £177,000), more due to different product mix than price inflation.
Group profit before interest and exceptional items was £19.1m, which is nearly treble the £6.6m figure for the same period last year.
At Miller Mining, poor weather at the start of the year impeded production and coal volumes sold were 13% lower. Profit before interest was £900k (2013 H1: £2.4m) but the mine remains strongly cash generative, Miller said.
Group chief executive Keith Miller said: "The group has performed well and benefited from continued improvements in the market. Miller Homes is showing strong margin growth and a substantial improvement in return on capital principally driven by higher volumes and the increased contribution from new sites. Miller Developments is experiencing positive occupier demand for its key strategic property assets. The disposal of Miller Construction in July allows the group to focus on the housing and commercial property markets which are showing strong signs of growth.
"In Miller Homes, trading continues to be robust across all of our regions in the UK, increasing our confidence in our ability to deliver improved margins and return on capital through enhancing the quality of the landbank and product mix, growing volumes with limited additional overheads and increasing the conversion of strategic land. We are targeting annual completions of 2,750 units in the medium term.”