Recovery in UK property market highlighted

The recovery in Britain’s property market will be highlighted this week when housebuilders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey update on trading

New housing being built
New housing being built

The recovery in Britain’s property market will be highlighted this week when housebuilders Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey update on trading, while online retailer Ocado reports results after a buoyant first half.

Tuesday’s half-year results from Ocado come after the group’s recent coup securing a 25-year, £170m deal with Morrisons to enable the supermarket to sell food on the web.

The move angered its largest supplier and rival Waitrose, which has since appointed lawyers to study the agreement. But it was applauded by investors, and shares hit an all time high of 351p in May.

Ocado, which employs around 6,000 people, also said in May it had seen a strong start to the year, setting the scene for a decent set of interim results. Underlying earnings are expected to rise by a fifth to £18.1m in the first half, thanks to a forecast rise in net revenues to £355.8m. The group is predicted to sink into the red on a pre-tax basis, with £2.4m of losses after notching up £400,000 in underlying profits a year earlier.

But figures are set to have been impacted by balance sheet inclusion of the firm’s second distribution centre in Warwickshire. Its last annual figures also showed it moving to the brink of first full-year profit as losses narrowed to £600, 000 from £2.4m a year earlier.

Government support for the housing market should help housebuilder Persimmon report more strong growth when it updates tomorrow. Britain’s housebuilders have been on a roll in recent months, boosted by state stimulus.

That has underpinned a share price surge which recently returned the York-based company to the FTSE 100 Index after a five-year absence.

Fellow housebuilder Taylor Wimpey is also set to confirm improving market conditions when it updates on Thursday.

The Bucks-based company has seen rising reservations. By April its total order book was up 18% to £1.2bn over the same time in 2012, with prices and margins improving.

Analysts expect the builder to report more growth and Citigroup believes it could even be close to returning money to shareholders.

The new boss of N Brown, Angela Spindler, will face investors for the first time tomorrow as the home shopping group’s customer recruitment drive begins to pay off.

Sales are rising among customers of N Brown’s younger brands, such as Simply Be, Jacamo and Fashion World. This is helping offset slower trading among brands such as JD Williams, Fifty Plus, Marisota and Julipa, where older customers are watching their spending. The company recently posted growing annual revenues and profits as sales to new shoppers surged 24%.

Business recovery experts Begbies Traynor will give a snapshot of conditions in the corporate sector when it reports full-year figures on Wednesday amid mounting signs of economic recovery. The Manchester- headquartered group should confirm further falls in insolvencies.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer