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Sun June 13 2021

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United House bears up to margins pressure

12 Jul 13 Specialist residential developer United House Group saw its underlying profits cut in half last year as its construction division suffered from squeezed margins.

Underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation was down from £16.1m in 2011 to £8.3m for the year to 31 December 2012.

However, thanks to a one-off profit on the sale of its housing PFI assets, reported pre-tax profit was up by £6.6m on 2011 to £21.4m for 2012.

Group turnover of £197m (2011: £239m) was lower, primarily as a result of the timing of completions of key developments schemes, the company said.

Faced with pressure on margins, like all the industry, United House restructured its construction division and brought in a new managing director and two directors.

The company appears to be on a solid footing, however. At the year end, the group held a cash balance of £15.4m with no corporate bank borrowings. The order book for the construction business had risen to £380m and the opportunity pipeline stood at a record £2.9bn.

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Group chief executive Jeffrey Adams said: “We continue to develop our reputation for handling complex schemes and delivering social housing and community facilities at zero cost to local authorities.  A recent example of this is our Clapham One project in which we created 155 new apartments for private sale on land provided to the Group by the local authority.  This, in turn, financed the provision of a new health centre, a new leisure centre, a public library and social housing.”

Private residential schemes under development include City North, which will provide 350 new flats in Finsbury Park, and a £100m regeneration of the Chrisp Street Market area of Poplar – both of which are in London.

The company’s refurbishment business is also re-establishing itself as a major revenue stream for the group, having recently won several maintenance contracts exceeding £250m with clients including Circle, London & Quadrant, Harlow Council and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

Mr Adams added: “In our development business, demand for London residential property has remained strong and we continue to work with our partners to deliver new schemes and bold new projects, such as Paynes & Borthwick Wharves, which is due for completion by late 2013 and will provide over 250 new residential waterside apartments.”

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