Blackfriar: Gleeson is a company that Yorkshire can be proud of

Sometimes the hacks on the Yorkshire Post business team write about companies that we fundamentally disagree with.

People can buy a two-bedroom Gleeson home for just under 250 a month
People can buy a two-bedroom Gleeson home for just under 250 a month

I’m not really in the mood for a legal writ, so I won’t be naming names today. There are quite enough readers calling on my editor to fire me for my “lovey-dovey”, “liberal elite”, “London-centric” pro-Remain Blackfriar columns.

However, I’m pleased to say that most of the time we write about firms that are making a huge, positive difference to people in Yorkshire.

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One of those firms is Sheffield-based MJ Gleeson, which sells low-cost homes in Northern England on brownfield sites that none of the other builders would go anywhere near. Gleeson enables people to get off the renting treadmill and become first time homeowners for less than £130,000.

As Gleeson’s interim chief executive James Thomson points out, a typical Gleeson customer is probably paying £350 to £550 a month in rent.

These people can buy a two-bedroom Gleeson home for just under £250 a month or a three-bedroom home for just under £300 a month, saving £150 to £200.

It’s a win-win situation. These people become home owners in areas that are transformed into desirable places with a real sense of local community.

As they move out, council house space is freed up for people who are struggling and need a family home.

This is the model that former chief executive Jolyon Harrison set up. Mr Harrison left the firm in June in a shock departure over a pay row and analysts in the know believe Mr Thomson will make a good replacement.

Mr Harrison championed Gleeson’s highly successful mission to offer those at the bottom rung of the housing ladder a step up to first time home ownership.

Gleeson’s goal is to transform former pit villages and other deprived areas in the North into areas where local people can afford to buy a house.

Analyst Robin Hardy at Shore Capital said Gleeson’s model of selling only lower priced homes to lower income families in locations the national house builders would consider unattractive remains a unique one that offers ample opportunity for growth.

Analyst Charlie Campbell at Liberum believes Gleeson’s unique low cost homes business model gives it unchallenged exposure to a very under-served part of the British housing market.

Gleeson estimates that only 6 per cent of houses selling at £150,000 or less in the North and Midlands are new build compared with 20 per cent for sales above £150,000.

Mr Campbell said demand remains strong as it remains cheaper for its customers to buy than to rent (even in social housing) and wages at the lower end of the spectrum have been growing faster than average because of the rising minimum wage.

Gleeson has reported terrific growth over the past few years and no sign of any Brexit jitters as predominantly low earners use its services to get on the housing ladder.

Mr Harrison believed that Gleeson was empowering people, giving them the chance to own their own home after years of being dependent on the council.

Gleeson’s sites can also have a significant beneficial effect on the surrounding area, with its home city of Sheffield being a prime example of this process.

Mr Thomson is expected to get the top job permanently and that will be good news for the firm. He is seen as a safe pair of hands.

With his appointment, Gleeson will continue to have a bright future ahead of it.