Stephen Stone denies his appointment to modular housebuilder signals interest in stock market listing

There are no plans to float modular housing firm Ilke on the stock exchange, according to the former listed housebuilder chief executive, Stephen Stone, who was last week drafted on to the board.

Stephen Stone

The appointment of Stone (pictured), who led Crest Nicholson’s successful stock market IPO in 2013, led to some speculation that Ilke, which is owned by private equity firms Sun Capital and TDR Capital, was considering a flotation.

Stone told Housing Today that he had been brought into the firm instead to attempt to boost its growth trajectory, with a particular focus on its new “turnkey” development business, in which it buys and develops sites for local authorities and housing associations, as well as manufactures and installs the homes.

Asked about the possibility of a flotation, Stone said it was “far too ambitious” to consider for the business, which he said will next year sell around 1,500 homes, despite the fact he said it was growing quickly.

He said: “It’d be nice, but [it’s] far too ambitious. Ilke is a growing company, but these things take a long time to build up – they’re years in the making.”

Speaking about the attitude of the firm’s owners, Sun Capital and TDR, Stone said: “This is a growth story. They’ve invested, other people have invested as well.

“All shareholders recognise you don’t create a modular manufacturer overnight. It takes years of preparation before you get something. This is a project that takes many years to take forward.”

ilke Homes Factory

He said the business was targeting sales of 2,000 homes per year in the medium term – the maximum possible from its existing Knaresborough production facility (pictured) – and he was looking to “take it forward to its next growth step, and bring it up to operating efficiency over the next few years.”

He said that long term the ambition was to move beyond 2,000 homes per year.

Ilke was set up in 2017 initially as a joint venture between housebuilder Keepmoat and steel frame building specialist Elliott Group. In the firm’s most recent published accounts, to March 2019, Ilke turned over just £2.6m – albeit this was prior to winning a series of significant contracts and £30m in backing from housing quango Homes England last year.

Stone, who is also chair of Keepmoat, declined to comment on reports last month that Keepmoat, which is also owned by Sun and TDR, is being readied for a £750m flotation. Sky News reported that the shareholders had hired bankers Barclays and Moelis to explore options for the business, but Stone dismissed the report as “speculation”.

Stone is one a number of former Crest Nicholson executives to take a role in Ilke. In 2019 Ilke appointed former Crest Nicholson midlands boss Ben Miller as MD of the firm, subsequently making him chief executive.

In the same year former Crest directors Tristin Willis, Tom Heathcote and Matthew Bench also all joined the business.