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Cala’s sales soar as people buy bigger homes in the suburbs

Cala Grandhome development in Bridge of Don

Cala Group has seen its sales soar to more than £1 billion – with the housebuilder’s boss crediting it to more people choosing to move to the suburbs.

Chief executive Kevin Whitaker said the company had “strongly rebounded” to significantly exceed pre-pandemic 2019 volumes, revenue and pre-tax profits.

He was speaking as Cala announced a “strong trading performance” throughout 2021 is expected to deliver revenue of £1.25bn for the first time.

This compares to last year when the firm’s turnover was down to £713 million, a drop from a pre-Covid peak of just over £1bn in 2019.

Pre-tax profits were also significantly improved. Cala made £130m in the year to December 31 compared to £24.4m in 2020 and £96.2m in 2019.

Cala Group chief executive Kevin Whitaker.

Larger living spaces driving demand

Mr Whitaker said: “Several factors have enabled our excellent financial performance across the 12-month period.

“In particular, we have seen many people making positive new home choices to seek out larger living spaces and this has driven very strong demand for our homes in aspirational suburban locations.

“While there have been significant supply chain challenges across the industry, the market has been strong.

“This, combined with improvements to our operational efficiency and the hard work of our team, has enabled us to deliver an excellent performance across the year.”

Strong roots in north-east

Edinburgh-based Cala is currently building a number of new developments in Aberdeen, including in Milltimber and Bridge of Don, and one in Inverurie.

The business recorded an average sales price of £462,000 in 2021, compared to £434,000 in 2020 – a 6% increase.

And the number of homes completed was 2,904, an increase of 19% on the 2019 total of 2,449 units  and 59% on the 2020 total of 1,835 units.

Cala also entered the new financial year with its strongest ever forward private reservations – £488m gross development value (GDV) from 994 units.

Plans to increase house numbers

Mr Whitaker said: “We expect to be one of the only major homebuilders to deliver new home completions in excess of pre-pandemic levels, with 2021 sales 19% up on 2019.

“Looking ahead to 2022 we are positive about our prospects.

“This year we plan to increase our housing delivery further still – building more than 3,200 homes across our eight regional operations.

“We have a strong short-term land bank to underpin the delivery of our current business plan and continue to invest heavily in land as we look towards our medium-term ambition of reaching a revenue of £1.8bn by 2026.”

Sales per site per week for 2021 were 0.76, compared to 0.53 in 2019 and 0.51 achieved in 2020.

Average UK house price on the rise

House prices increased by more than £24,500 on average in 2021, marking the largest annual cash rise since 2003, according to the latest monthly index from Halifax .

The typical UK property value hit a new record high of £276,091 in December 2021.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “In 2021 we saw the average house price reach new record highs on eight occasions, despite the UK being subject to lockdown for much of the first six months of the year.”

House prices in Scotland increased by 9.7% year on year.

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