Abbey 'cautious' on investment

Irish housebuilding group Abbey has said it will be “cautious” about making new landbank investments, particularly in its UK operations, in the months ahead, due to Brexit uncertainty.

The Meath-based company reported a 2.2% year-on-year increase in first half pre-tax profits, while revenues jumped by over 22% to €110.6m.

Pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of October, amounted to €23.93m.

Abbey Chairman Charles Gallagher.

“Whilst our UK forward sales position gives confidence of a reasonable result for the year, the uncertain external conditions are cause for concern,” said chairman Charles Gallagher.

The group will continue to progress all its activities but intends to be cautious about new investments.

Mr Gallagher said, however, that trading in the UK “held up well” in the six months, with housing projects aimed at first-time buyers selling particularly well.

Abbey’s core housebuilding division - it also has a UK plant hire business which generated profits of €1.88m and revenues of nearly €11m in the first half - completed 277 sales; 239 of which were in the UK, with 19 in Ireland and 19 in the Czech Republic.

At its AGM in October, Abbey said it was ramping up its Irish-based development activity, with increasing the number of houses it builds here its top priority.

Mr Gallagher said that remains the case.Abbey currently has four Irish-based housing projects awaiting planning permission, and will shortly have five projects, here, in production.

The company declared an interim dividend of 9c per share, as well as a special dividend of €1 per share.

The latter will be paid at the end of January, with the former payable at the end of April. Less than 10% of Abbey shares are in free float.

The Gallagher family controls nearly 82% of the company, with global investor Fidelity controlling just shy of 10%.

Elsewhere, UK housebuilder Berkeley Group reported a 25.7% fall in first-half profit and warned of an uncertain short-term outlook as British people put off buying houses ahead of Brexit.

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