Focus on sales as retirement housebuilder admits it has 1,350 completed unsold homes in stock

Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone has announced a phased return to work from the start of next week as it revealed the business had more than six months of completed stock sitting unsold.

McCarthy & Stone

McCarthy & Stone has been slower to return to work than most listed housebuilders, which restarted site operations last month, as it sells the vast majority of its homes to people over 65, the sector of society who have been most affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

The housebuilder said that both sales and build activity will commence a “measured” return to activity from June 8.

However, it said the initial focus will be on sales rather than construction, given its overhang of completed stock. It said it had 1,350 units sitting completed, equivalent to eight months of completions at last year’s build rate. The cost value of the units is approximately £325m, equivalent to around half of last year’s revenue.

It said that sales offices “have been reconfigured to ensure that strict social distancing measures are adhered to using an appointment-based visiting system.”

Meanwhile build activities will restart “gradually”, the firm said, beginning with sites closest to completion.

The firm said it had £146m of available cash as at April 30, which is more than it reported in March.

McCarthy & Stone also re-highlighted its success in keeping its retirement homes relatively free from covid-19, saying that those living in McCarthy & Stone communities had been less likely to suffer covid-19 than the general population through the lockdown.

John Tonkiss, chief executive, said this proved that McCarthy and Stone’s communities were safe, resilient and supportive places to live. “I’d also like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to every one of our homeowners and our employees. It’s been a difficult period, but there’s nothing like a crisis to show what we’re made of, and what we’ve shown is that our communities are made of much more than bricks and mortar.”