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60 second interview - Building a solid reputation in the north-west

NEWS

Last month, Wilson Bowden bought Manchester-based house builder Roland Bardsley Homes for £49 million from Wayne Bardsley, the managing director of sister company Bardsley Construction. He talks to Joanna Booth What is the history of the family firm?

My father was a joiner and started out on his own in 1964 with a scooter and a bag of tools, and built the company up from there. Sadly, he died five years ago. In 2004, in compliance with my father's wishes, we split the company into two - Roland Bardsley Homes and Bardsley Construction, the firm of which I am managing director.

After a tidying up exercise, we sold the former to David Wilson Homes for £49 million in total. Of that figure, £24 million was debt assumed by Wilson Bowden, which gave us £25 million in cash.

Why did you decide to sell the house building side?

It was owned by the family as a whole and no one apart from me is in the industry. It was a natural progression to free up the cash and the firm was ripe for sale.

There's a moratorium in planning at the moment in the north-west, and Roland Bardsley Homes had a land bank of 600 units and a fantastic reputation in the area. And I've been very lucky in that I'm still left with the larger part of the family business, Bardsley Construction.

What is the profile of Bardsley Construction?

We're a local contractor working for blue-chip clients in the north-west.

Over the past two years our turnover has risen from £32 million to £40 million, and we're on track to go up to £50 million next year.

Around 60 per cent of our turnover comes from general contracting, much of it in the education and health sector.

Some is through standard tender but there is an increase in partnering work which is great as you get a guarantee you will be paid and repeat business.

Local authorities are dependable clients. We also work for housing associations, but the volume ebbs and f lows as funding is released.

How will you invest the profits from the sale?

I will invest in the expansion of the private development side of Bardsley Construction, which provides 40 per cent of our turnover. We specialise in urban renewal work on brownfield sites, so it was never a clash with what Roland Bardsley Homes was building.

We have 400 units currently in planning. We also do linked developments - for instance, we are building a new golf club for a client and using the land from the old one for housing.

The great thing about contracting is that it's not moneyintensive - you get paid for the work you do. Developments need money at the front end.

The house building market is quite crowded - is it difficult to remain competitive?

We try to build a better prod-uct than the next man. Even though we do urban renewal work where it is challenging to make a profit, we make our spec better than our neighbours'. We directly employ our workforce, so we can maintain consistent quality.