Highland housebuilder Tulloch Homes Group has revealed a big jump in the size of its war chest for land acquisitions as it tries to cash in on pent-up demand for new homes.
Chief executive George Fraser said the firm’s net cash balance grew to £32.5 million during the 12 months to June 30 2020, from £21m the year before.
Inverness-based Tulloch is nearing the end of its 2020-21 financial year and figures for this trading period are not yet available, but Mr Fraser said the company was “on track” for a return to pre-pandemic trading.
We feel there is responsibility on us, in the circumstances of the pandemic, to provide work and retain jobs.”
George Fraser, chief executive, Tulloch Homes Group
The firm is on the hunt for new development opportunities in the central belt, as well as its own Highland backyard, with Moray also in its sights as it looks to take advantage of a UK market trend for people wanting to move up the property ladder – or onto it.
Figures published by mortgage lender Nationwide this week revealed a sharp jump in UK house prices.
Tulloch will have built about 250 new homes during the year to June 30 2021, Mr Fraser said.
He was speaking as the housebuilder reported pre-tax profits of £3.3m for 2020-21, the last quarter of which was curtailed by severe Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Tulloch said a substantial reduction in its profits from £8.8m in the year to June 2019 was explained fully by the pandemic’s impact on housebuilding construction and sales.
Turnover fell to £32.2m in the latest period, from £51.1m in 2018-19.
The company said it currently had 1,217 units with planning consent, down from 1,320 a year ago, with a further 474 units contracted in the Highlands.
It sold 136 homes during the year to June 30, down from the 2018-19 total of 211 – a figure hit by the effects of the pandemic.
At the end of last June the group had net assets of £63.5m, up from £60.2m a year earlier.
Mr Fraser said: “The year ended June 30 2020 was an incredibly challenging period for everyone, with the impact of Covod-19 felt globally.
“For Tulloch Homes Group, in the period up to the point where the country entered lockdown on March 23, we had been trading in line with expectations and it was anticipated financial targets would be met for the year.
“There was little activity from lockdown to the year-end as a result of restrictions placed on all UK businesses by both governments in response to the pandemic.
“The year ended June 30 2020 was, therefore, a very truncated period, and this is reflected clearly in our results.”
He added: “However, post-year end, construction activity returned to all of our sites and buyer interest has been robust.
“On a cautious note, it is too early to forecast if this recovery will be sustained – but there has undoubtedly been a surge in pent-up demand.
“We continue to require the acquisition of land as the raw material and precursor to the development and sale of private housing, and that is an ongoing process.”
Tulloch employs 152 people, mainly in the Highlands, but it is estimated its building activities support a further 600 jobs at sub-contractors.
Mr Fraser said: “We feel there is responsibility on us, in the circumstances of the pandemic, to provide work and retain jobs.”