Bellway slashes prices as sales drop 38%

Housebuilder Bellway said it completed sales of 2,014 homes in the six months to the end of January compared to 3,252 in the same period a year earlier.

The 38% fall was mirrored by the average selling price of these homes reducing from £174,800 to £160,000.

Bellway, which serves the North West from a base in Hunts Cross, South Liverpool, said it would seek to sell its 1,000 remaining completed units "quickly to expedite cash flow".

This stock includes developments in Garston and Wavertree in Liverpool and Droylsden and Castlefield in Manchester.

A trading update today said: "Cash discounting, part exchange and shared equity have been used as incentives in virtually every private sale to maintain a sales rate which has been in line with our expectations. Margins continue to come under extreme pressure and could fall by more than 50% when compared to 18.1% posted in the six months ended 31 January 2008."

The group's order book stood at £296m (2008 – £580m) of which 70% is contracted and 89% of the current indicated targeted volume for the year ending 31 July 2009 has been secured.

Bellway said its land buying teams continue to look at new deals but the company is not yet "committing itself unconditionally to any new land purchases".

The immediate focus is on reducing debt by £100m to £120m at 31 July 2009.

The statement added: "The group continues to operate well within its current committed banking facilities of £402m, which were negotiated and agreed in the second quarter of 2008 and extend out in annual tranches to 2015."

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