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Sun April 11 2021

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Vistry expects profits to bounce back this year

4 Mar House-builder Vistry Group has reported annual profits ahead of expectations and a strong start to 2021.

Vistry chief executive Greg Fitzgerald
Vistry chief executive Greg Fitzgerald

“We start 2021 as a stronger business,” said Vistry chief executive Greg Fitzgerald.

Vistry Group’s pre-tax profit for the year to 31st December 2020 was £98.7m on revenue of £1,8112m. It was the company’s first year of trading since the acquisition by Bovis Homes of Galliford Try’s Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration businesses for £1.1bn.

By comparison, in 2019 Bovis Homes made £174.8m pre-tax profit on revenue of £1,131m.

However, the board expects profits to bounce back in 2021 to pass £200m.

With the Covid-19 pandemic having a significant impact on first half trading, and costing the business £10.2m, Vistry completed 6,131 units, down 24% on 2019’s 8,042 units for Bovis and Linden combined.

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Despite “a uniquely challenging year”, debt incurred through the acquisition was all paid off, ending the year in a net cash position of £38m, down from net debt of £357m as at 30th June 2020.

The results include £20m of exceptional costs relating to the acquisition and £11m costs putting right  potential build defects in legacy buildings, including fire safety issues. Provisions totalling £20.9m have now been made relating to post-Grenfell cladding and fire safety fixes.

Chief executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “The group has achieved an enormous amount in 2020, and despite the challenges I am in no doubt we start 2021 as a stronger business. We had a strong second half performance with a sustained step up in demand, firm pricing, and a robust supply chain. Vistry Partnerships made excellent progress against its growth targets of £1bn revenue and a 10% plus operating margin by 2022, delivering a 70% increase in H2 2020 mixed tenure completions and adjusted operating margin progression in the year to 6.7%.”

He said: “We have a strong forward sales position, with 64% of forecast units for 2021 already secured. Assuming stable market conditions, the group is confident it will more than double profits in the year, with a profit before tax of at least £310m.”

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