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Walker profits soar after sector rise

The Walker housebuilding group lifted profits by 50% this year as a recovering market breathed new life into the sector.

Founded by chairman Mike Walker over 40 years ago, the group made a £4.5 million pre-tax profit, up from £3m in 2012 and just £24,000 in 2011, according to the accounts of Walker Holdings (Scotland) for the year to September 30 just lodged at Companies House. Trading profit was up similarly from £2.1m to £3.2m.

Before the crash the Livingston-based group racked up profits of £27m in 2006, when turnover hit £80m.

This year's profit hike was achieved on the back of a 9.1% rise in unit sales, though turnover fell from £24.2m to £19.2m, with average selling prices falling by £40,000 to £209,000 due to the previous year's inclusion of £500,000-plus units at Linlithgow.

Walker says that due to its scale it was unable to participate in the MI New Home indemnity-backed mortgage scheme introduced by Homes for Scotland and the Scottish Government, but it has agreed participation in the new Home Buy Scotland shared equity scheme.

The directors say they "still consider the future to be challenging, recognising the credit conditions facing the industry and housing market generally". They do not expect any significant change in the scale of activity "while competition to achieve sales continues amongst housebuilders and the financial markets continue to constrain mortgage finance".

The group maintained employment at 44 during the year. It is debt-free and had £21m of cash at the year end. It loaned Westerwood, a property company owned by the two family directors, £6m in 2007 and is still owed £2.3m.

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