House builder Bellway said demand throughout the spring selling season has remained resilient with visitor levels and reservation rates running ahead of expectations.
In the period covering February to May, inclusive, reservations (net of cancellations) have averaged 122 per week, up 9% on the corresponding period of last year.
The increase in the private weekly sales rate is more marked at 19%, having been attained from an average of 210 sites, compared to 195 last year, the company said.
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The target Bellway set at the beginning of the financial year of achieving 5% volume growth is now secure, subject to build delivery, and the board is therefore confident that legal completions for the year ending July 31st 2012 should exceed those achieved last year by around 300 units. In addition, some 1,600 reservations have been taken for completion in 2012/13.
The average selling price on reserved houses since the beginning of February is £190.400, up 5% year-on-year. The rise is largely down to a combination of more up-market units being sold in the London market, and a greater proportion of private reservations.
Operating margins continue to improve, and the group expects to produce an operating margin of at least 11% for the full year.
The group had net bank debt of £35m at 31st May and depending upon the profile of land opportunities over the coming weeks, the board anticipates a modest level of gearing at the year end.
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