By Geoff Percival
Housebuilding group Abbey has moved to ramp up its Irish-based development activity, with construction on a new project in Navan “progressing quickly” and further residential projects in Meath and Laois due to commence shortly.
At the group’s AGM in Malahide, executive chairman Charles Gallagher said Abbey is trading well and remains on course for a growth in building work in its current financial year.
“Overall, the group is in a good position to grow output this year. Trading over the summer has been steady.
“In southern England our sales have held up well, underpinned by the UK government’s consistent support for first-time buyers,” he said.
In July, on the back of Abbey’s annual results presentation — covering the 12 months to the end of April — Mr Gallagher said the company was “very very focused” on increasing its Irish activity, with an increase in the number of houses it builds here being its “top priority”.
Abbey completed 75 house sales in Ireland in its last financial year, up from 39 in the previous year. While Mr Gallagher said the final outcome of Brexit may hinder Abbey’s progress in Ireland and the UK, he expected activity growth in both markets in the current year.
However, Mr Gallagher has also previously said the building of 40,000 new houses per year — as has been bandied about as an average output number in order for housing supply to meet demand — is an unrealistic and unsustainable target to fix Ireland’s housing crisis.
He said 25,000 builds per year is a more realistic short-term target.