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House builder claims private sales will triple

FINANCE - John Laing Partnerships expects low-cost housing focus to help raise turnover

SALES of private houses are expected to triple next year at social housing contractor John Laing Partnerships.

JLP launched a private housing business, Intro, to focus on low-cost housing soon after its management bought the group from John Laing for £16.4 million in autumn 2003.

Deputy managing director Stewart Taylor said: 'This last period has been a start-up.

'In future years we should accelerate and do about 150 units next year.

'As a group, we'll probably turnover £60 million next year and most of the growth will be on the private side.'

Intro will only sell around 50 units but JLP's board hopes that this business will be shifting 250 units by 2008 with the focus on selling homes for around £200,000.

JLP turned over a total of £67.9 million in the 16 months to December 2004 compared to £30.5 million in the previous eight months prior to the sell-off.

The group made a £1.6 million pre-tax profit in the latest period - up from £459,000 - and has now changed its financial year to run over a calendar year.

JLP's social housing operation provided £55 million of the latest turnover and should build about 450 homes for registered social landlords this year.

The firm has landed a place along with seven other contractors on a framework to build between 2,000 and 2,500 homes a year for RSL Circle Anglia.

The firm's social housing operation works from Basingstoke and Reading up to Birmingham and Cambridge.

JLP has a place on another big framework for Notting Hill RSL with more and more work coming via this route.

A company spokesman said: 'There are another three big frameworks about to drop.'

JLP has also entered the Government competition to build a house for £60,000 with architect PCKO and modular firm Pinewood Structures and their entry made the shortlist of 33 entries.

After breaking away from its old owner, JLP set up John Laing Training, which lost £300,000 in the eight months to August 2003 but made £265,000 in the latest period as turnover nearly tripled to £4.2 million.