Gleeson boosted by success of Help to Buy scheme

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Urban regeneration specialist MJ Gleeson reported a strong performance over the past five months, boosted by​ the popularity of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.

The Sheffield-based community housebuilder, which builds low-cost homes in the North, ​said both its housebuilding and strategic land businesses are performing ahead of expectations.

Chairman, Dermot Gleeson, ​told shareholders at the group’s AGM: ​“​The Government’s Help to Buy scheme remained popular during the period, with 53​ per cent​ of customers taking advantage of it. Our own bespoke purchaser assistance packages also continued to be attractive.​“

​Over the five-month period the group completed 314 sales, up from 259 sales last year. Gleeson Homes now has 44 active sites, ​up from 39​ last year.

​Analyst James Tetley, at N+1 Singer, said: “Gleeson’s AGM update confirms a very positive start to the year. The market back-drop remains highly supportive following the pro-housing Autumn Statement and ahead of the introduction of the National Living Wage, which will benefit Gleeson’s customers. We upgrade current year pre-tax profit forecasts by nine per cent.”

Mr Gleeson said a significant number of new sites are due to open and it expects the number of active sites to be approaching 50 by next June.

​The division currently has a land pipeline of 7,717 plots along with a further 961 plots being considered.

“The outlook for the division continues to be very encouraging, with strong customer demand in all regions, supported by improved mortgage availability​,” Mr Gleeson told shareholders.

“​We are encouraged by the Halifax Building Society’s announcement it will increase its maximum financial exposure to housebuilders’ individual development sites from 30​ per cent​ to 50​ per cent​ of total value and we welcome the announcement of further measures to encourage housebuilding in the Autumn Statement.”