Cala plans to “significantly” expand the business and its land bank – particularly in central England – after Patron and Legal & General fended off six rivals to buy the group for £210 million.
Cala group chief executive Alan Brown told CN it had eight serious expressions of interest in the firm, and is now aiming to develop 1,000 units annually within two or three years.
The Edinburgh-based housebuilder is hiring extra staff to meet capacity in its head office and regional operations, and increasing its number of sites by half.
Mr Brown said some of the group’s regional arms were “slightly undersized” in terms of efficiency, especially in the Midlands.
The housebuilder operates in the north, east and west of Scotland, as well as south of the border in the Midlands and the South-east.
“What we’re looking at doing is expanding those [regional] businesses to match capacity,” Mr Brown said.
“There are significant markets we can attack in those areas.”
He said Cala would continue to focus on premium residential building – which he described as the firm’s “raison d’être”.
However, he did not rule out moves into other sectors such as build to rent.
Patron and Legal & General will each take a 46.5 per cent equity stake in the housebuilder as part of its acquisition, while Cala senior management will take 7 per cent.
Lloyds Bank had previously been a majority shareholder after a debt-for-equity swap in 2009 following a period of major restructuring and huge write-downs the year before, which had resulted in £260m of losses.
Mr Brown said he believed the buyout was indicative of return to confidence in the housing sector, and that there appeared to be a greater market appetite among firms looking to buy stakes in housebuilders generally.
He added that Cala had enjoyed a “particularly strong start” to the year, and that the buyers had been attracted by the brand’s market position as an upmarket builder, as well as its health and safety record.
Mr Brown told CN in January that he was expecting continued growth in the short term as profits from new, higher-margin land came through.
He also revealed that he expected revenue to rise from £215m last year to £245m this year, before hitting £300m the following year.
Patron and Legal & General will each have two representatives at board level, but Mr Brown insisted there would be no changes of leadership.
He said there were no specific exit plans for the investors and added that the Patron fund was based on 12-year investments.