Housebuilding giant Barratt Developments has hailed its use of timber frames as it looks to a sustainable future following its first Covid-impacted set of results.

The builder has increasingly used timber frames instead of brick and block north of the Border and is ramping up its use in England and Wales.

The news comes as the company’s results showed the 12 months to June 30 were bruising for the business, as its pre-tax profit fell 46 per cent to £491.8 million on revenue of £3.42 billion, a drop of 28%.

Barratt completed 5,252 fewer homes than the previous year, a drop of 29%, as building sites were forced to close for weeks during the pandemic.

Investors holding shares in Barratt Developments will be forced to wait for the company to pay out another dividend, after its profit nearly halved in the most recent financial year.

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The company took a £74.3 million hit and said investors will have to wait until “the time is right” to get another dividend payout. Last year’s dividend was 46.4p per share.

Some £45.2m of the hit was related to safety costs and the cost of leaving sites empty, with the remaining £29.1m down to delays in construction.

As the lockdown restrictions eased, the company monitored the phased reopening of its construction sites in England and Wales from May 11 and in Scotland from June 1, and by June 30 all of its construction sites were operational and its employees, other than those shielding, had returned to work.

David Thomas, Barratt chief executive, said: “While Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our results, our priority has been to keep our people safe, mitigate the effect of the pandemic on our business and be able to emerge from the crisis in a resilient position."

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He continued: “Although uncertainties remain, all of our sites are operational, we are seeing very strong consumer demand and our robust financial position means we enter the new financial year with cautious optimism.

“We are now renewing our focus on our medium-term targets, on leading the industry in quality and service, and on supporting jobs and economic growth by building the homes the country needs.”

The company added: “Based on current market conditions, construction activity levels and assuming no further lockdowns, we expect to grow wholly owned completions to between 14,500 and 15,000 homes in FY21.”

The company said it had initially claimed £26m from the Government to cover the salaries of its employees, the majority of whom were furloughed. It has since made the decision to return this cash.

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The housebuilder last year acquired Scottish Borders-based maker Oregon Timber Frame which is now expanding its operations.

It said it is “committed to increasing the number of homes we build using modern methods of construction (MMC) to increase efficiency and to help mitigate the challenges posed by the shortage of skilled workers within the industry”.

“In 2020 we constructed 2,652 homes - 21% of our home completions - using MMC including timber frame, large format block and offsite manufactured ground floor solutions and roof cassettes.”

Its target is to use moern methods in the construction of 25% of its homes by 2025. “Timber frame construction is a sustainable, low energy method of build and is assembled in factories to high standards.

“Over the last three years, we have built 6,035 homes using timber frame, the majority in Scotland. We are also increasing its use across England and Wales. Last year, we acquired Oregon, a UK manufacturer of timber frames.

“Oregon, which was already one of our key timber frame suppliers providing high quality products and excellent customer service, has continued to expand and has opened an additional factory as we look to expand further our use of timber frame.”

Shares closed up 8.7% at 547.4p.