Source - SMW
Retirement home builder McCarthy & Stone said trading had remained resilient despite subdued market conditions, though it expected its profits to be more heavily weighted to the second half than previously guided.

The company said that 20 weeks into the current financial year, its forward order book , including legal completions, stood at £366m, up from £323m at the same time last year. 

The growth was driven by 29 new sites released for sale and increased average selling prices, reflecting a continuing improvement in sales mix and quality of sites, it said.

Build activity and first occupations remained on track for the year with around 80 sales releases still expected for fiscal 2018, up from 52 in fiscal 2017.

As previously stated, first occupations would be heavily weighted towards the second half. And while the forward order book was now £43m ahead of the prior year, an increased proportion of the sales relate to second half completions.  

"As a result, the group's profits are likely to be more heavily weighted towards the second half than previously guided," McCarthy & Stone said.

"Overall, the trading outlook for FY18 remains in line with market expectations albeit there is now additional uncertainty created by the government announcement on ground rents."

The UK government has proposed cutting ground rents on new long leases to zero.

McCarthy & Stone continued discussions with the government in an effort to secure an exemption from the proposed changes to ground rents for the retirement housebuilding sector. 

"While the group is supportive of the overall direction of the government's leasehold reform to safeguard consumers from excessive increases, there is a strong case for a very specific exemption for retirement housebuilders," it said.