CALA Group has said challenges in the subdued Aberdeen market are now behind it and it has started buying land again in the north-east.

The resurgence of the upmarket housebuilder’s Aberdeen business comes as Cala saw a 34 per cent increase in home completions, to 939, in second half of 2017, putting it on course for a sixth year of record revenue and profits.

Chief executive Alan Brown said the group is investing heavily in Aberdeen and the city’s housing market is returning to growth after the impact of the oil downturn.

Aberdeen has suffered more than any other UK city since the oil price collapsed in 2014, but over the last 12 months there have been increasing signs of a recovery.

The oil price has remained above $60 since October, and there was more than £6 billion in deals done in the North Sea during 2017.

“The [housing] market is steady across the UK and that is also true of Scotland,” said Mr Brown. “Aberdeen is positive. Obviously through the oil crisis it was a bit of a challenge but that’s behind us now and that business is starting to grow, so we have invested heavily in more land and more people in that business.”

Cala, which began life in 1875 as an Aberdeen land management company, currently has six developments in and around the Granite City. It has also submitted a planning application for a 57-home development in Inverurie.

Mr Brown said the Glasgow and Edinburgh markets were doing “phenomenally well” as the group worked towards operational efficiency across its eight UK divisions.

“We have made exceptional progress in transforming the size and scope of our business and remain focused on scaling up our eight regional divisions as we continue to make significant progress towards achieving operational efficiency,” said Mr Brown.

This has led the group to set a new, long term target of building more than 3,000 units per year. In its last financial year, Cala completed 1,677 homes on its way to £68.5m pre-tax profits on revenue of £750m.

This, said Mr Brown, showed Cala remains on course to deliver its current objective of 2,500 units and £1bn of revenue by 2020.

“Our goal is to make ourselves operationally efficient which we think we can do by 2020, so we’ve got another year to 18 months of significant growth and when our eight regions all get up to capacity that growth will ease off,” said Mr Brown.

“We set our existing growth strategy in 2013. In the last six months we’ve contracted on nearly 1,600 [homes] and achieved planning on more than 1,900 so what that is saying to us is that we have the capability to deliver more than 3,000 homes.”

During the period to December 31, net private reservations were up 40 per cent, while private sales per site per week increased to 0.64, a record for the group.

Revenue per site per week was £277,000, up from £251,000 and Mr Brown said the high-end of the market was doing no better or worse than further down the price range.

“We have this shortage of housing in the UK so therefore you’ve got this supply and demand imbalance,” he said.

Mr Brown added that trading during the early weeks of January had been encouraging and the Group was 81 per cent sold for the full year, and had begun selling for the 2019 financial year.

Mr Brown criticised the UK Government for holding a fifth review since 2004 into housebuilders allegedly holding onto land, but praised the £44bn committed at the November Budget to boost the supply of new housing.

Mr Brown added that the Scottish planning system was better than south of the Border, pointing to the Scottish Government ensuring local authorities have a five year housing supply.

“In Scotland, local authorities are acting in an appropriate way. We have some challenges, but the major problem is in England,” he said.