Pre-tax profit fall

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Low sales at Sheffield construction group Henry Boot’s Hallam Land subsidiary have prompted a 36 per cent fall in pre-tax profits from £9.1 million to £5.8 million for the six months to the end of June.

Chairman John Brown said the markets the Banner Cross Hall company operated in had remained challenging, but the group continued to trade in line with the Board’s expectations.

“We have an unprecedented number of strategic land sites working through the recently revised planning process,” said Mr Brown.

“As anticipated, we did not conclude any material land sales in the first half of 2012.

“However, we continued to invest heavily and added over 700 acres to our land portfolio.

“We remain cautiously optimistic about an increase in house building levels, although it is a slow process, which is not ideal.

“However, we hope that the policies being introduced to improve the situation will be successful in stimulating the market in the future.

“Over the next year we are in a position to market several consented sites which, given the slightly improving outlook for the housing market, should see good demand.”

Henry Boot says that its construction business has achieved its forecast order book for the year.

It is now starting to take on commitments for 2013, although margins continue to be tight.

The group says the second half of the year will see it complete two developments at Markham Vale, the 200- acre business park within the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone, which is being developed in partnership with Derbyshire County Council.

The company is building a 100,000 sq ft national distribution centre for automotive parts distributor Andrew Page Limited and a drive-through fast food outlet for McDonald’s.

The Henry Boot group has increased its interim dividend by nine per cent, from 1.65p to 1.80p.