David Livingstone was appointed managing director of house builder Redrow's south Midlands regional company in January.
He talks to Joanna Booth
How did you get into the industry?
I joined straight after school ? I've never done anything but house building. I started out at Wimpey as a civil engineer. I then joined McClean Homes in East Anglia and worked my way up to managing director.
I was MD of Wilson Connolly in Newmarket, of Wimpey Homes in Milton Keynes and of Laing Homes in High Wycombe. Then I was asked to join Redrow, which is a fantastic fit, as I know the area well.
What are your plans for Redrow South Midlands?
This part of the business is relatively new. It started off about three and a half years ago, so it's now my job to expand it. My medium-term plan is substantial growth ? I don't want to talk numbers yet as we haven't released anything to the City, but it will be substantial. It also depends on the market ? if it doesn't go with us it will take slightly longer.
How will you grow the business?
We currently operate in Warwickshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and I want more outlets in that available geography. The Government has highlighted a massive need for new homes in the next few years and we can help deliver them. We cover the Milton Keynes area and that is one of the hot spots earmarked for development.
Our land banks are healthy but we are always looking to increase them.
Will you be achieving growth by expanding into new areas of the market?
We won't introduce new products to our range ? there's no need. We currently develop a range from one-bed apartments to five-bedroom houses. We are heavily into the design concepts of each scheme.
Our design quality gives us a market advantage. We put a lot of effort into the external appearance of the developments, so that they fit into the local vernacular.
What projects are in the pipeline?
We are about to start two major projects in Corby and Desborough and a 200-apartment scheme in Leighton Buzzard which incorporates the use of a new light steel frame. It's provided by Redrow's Framing Solutions business, and fits well into the Government drive for modern methods of construction. It's the first time we've used it in this region, but I can see it contributing more.
Redrow missed out on the first round of £60,000 house contracts. Will it seek to get involved in the future?
Redrow already provides affordable homes in its Debut range. A three-bedroom house costs £40,000 to build, and retails for around £110,000. We are not currently constructing any of these properties in the south Midlands area but I intend to do so in the future when the right opportunity comes up.
What is the secret to successful house building?
Keep it simple. It's the best way to deliver what customers want.