May 24 2013 Latest news:
By BEN WOODS
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The boss of Lowestoft-based Wellington Construction has spoken of his confidence that pent-up demand from housing associations for new homes will restore growth to the company – despite a dip in revenues.
Paul Pitcher, managing director, said constraints on the affordable housing market had caused the firm to be hit by a £1.728m drop in turnover, from £8.395m in 2011 to £6.667m last year.
But he insisted that an “appetite” from the housing market to build houses in the coming months had revealed a more positive picture for the company, as it prepares to construct 150 affordable homes across the region by December next year.
It comes as the firm has seen evidence of movement in the residential housing market, with the company lodging plans to build 30 new residential homes – including three at Filby, near Great Yarmouth.
He said: “That dip in revenues was a result of the constraints on the affordable housing sector, which went through a phase of not a great deal of activity. But this year we feel we will definitely see an increase on last year.
“I am quite positive with where the business will go this year. I am confident that things will start moving and we will see more activity in the commercial sector, and the affordable housing sector.
He added: “At the moment there is a huge appetite from the housing association to get the project finished by December 2014.”
Figures revealed in the company’s latest financial statement showed that the firm had boosted its bottom line by £214,524 to £984,967 last year.
It had also managed to reduce its bank debt by more than £100,000 through the sale of land.
Meanwhile, Mr Pitcher said he had been encouraged by an increase in interest from energy-sector firms in the new-build commercial sites at Yarmouth’s Beacon Park, where the company has carried out a number of construction projects.
But he said a lack of lending from the banks had prevented the company building commercial units without a pre-let agreement.
He added: “This year we have seen a huge increase in enquiries for Beacon Park and I am confident that we will see more businesses operating out of Blackfriars Court by the end of the year.
“But in the commercial sector it is the funding that we found to be the big issue because the support you get is virtually zero. Anything pre-let is fine, but anything you want to do on a speculative basis is just not there, which is a shame because people are taking them, but the banks just don’t want to know.”
Norfolk turkey giant Bernard Matthews is in talks to sell a stake in the business.