Avant Homes on the hunt for new Yorkshire locations

Avant reported strong growth over the year
Avant reported strong growth over the year
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Northern housebuilder Avant Homes has announced record profits and a ​new five-year growth plan to invest in ​selected locations in the North.

The firm said it has identified several sites in and around Sheffield and Rotherham as prime locations.

Avant's chief executive Colin Lewis said: "Sheffield is a strong market. In fact it could be becoming too strong. Prices are very high and we are looking at surrounding places like Chesterfield - we have sites there now. They are selling at lower prices so they are affordable."

He called on Sheffield City Council to release more land so much needed housing can be built.

"We need a planning review that looks at Sheffield as a very important hub," he added.

Avant has opened two sites in the Stannington suburb of Sheffield, one in Stannington itself and the other at a former factory site on the green edge of Sheffield.

An average Avant home in Yorkshire costs between £250,000 and £300,000 and the group has launched a new, cheaper range of housing called the Bridge to meet demand for people who can only afford £180,000 to £200,000.

"These are homes that are simpler to build," said Mr Lewis.

"They have simpler designs so they are less expensive to build and they use lower price point materials. They allow us to appeal to a much broader market."

The first Bridge homes in Yorkshire will be located at the new Advanced Manufacturing Park in the Sheffield/Rotherham area, which will be home to McClaren.

"People say: 'I want an Avant home.' The Bridge range has all the quality, but at a lower price point," said Mr Lewis.

He was speaking as the group reported a 43​ per cent increase​ ​in core ​o​perating ​p​rofit to £6​6m in the year to April 27, a record performance for the third consecutive year.

Revenues rose 21 per cent to £447m and total completions were up 16 per cent to 1,902.

Avant reported strong outlet growth over the year, with average outlets up 17 per cent at 42 compared with 36 average outlets in the prior year.

Mr Lewis said the strong performance was down to three factors.

"The product is the success. People like what we do - aspirational houses at prices they can afford in places they want to live," he said.

"Secondly, we are seeing strong residential​ markets in the North, stronger than the South. Thirdly, we've got some really good people working for us."​

Avant reported a strong forward order book and the group is now 42 per cent sold for 2019.

"We are really pleased with that," said Mr Lewis.

"It's an indicator of where the market is for us."

Analysts at Numis said in a note: "This is a good result and highlights the strong momentum in Avant’s business model and the benefit of its Northern/Midlands focused business model.

"The group has set a target to more than double volumes over the next five years to 4,000 units by 2032 and exceed £1bn of revenue. This growth is being supported by an extended product range (with more affordable/smaller properties being rolled out) and further geographic expansion – with Avant now fully operational on its fifth region.

"In our view this update confirms that market conditions remain supportive for growth and this is being well executed by the management of Avant. Looking forward, the group’s expected growth profile will be high in the context of the quoted sector."