Real Estate

Countryside Properties chief steps down as housebuilder misses out on boom

The chief executive of Countryside Properties has stepped down after the housebuilder failed to capitalise on the UK’s booming property market.

Shares in the group plunged almost a fifth in early trading on Thursday after the group said profits in the final quarter of last year fell to less than half their level from a year ago, even as rival builders reaped the rewards of strong demand and record prices.

Countryside said on Thursday that boss Iain McPherson would leave the FTSE 250 developer with immediate effect.

McPherson unveiled a new strategy in July for Countryside to focus on its “partnerships” division, through which it works with housing associations and operators in the private rental sector, and back away from the private sales market.

But the group’s adjusted operating profit in its partnerships division fell from £24m in the first three months of last year to £11.3m this year as revenues and the number of new homes built fell sharply.

John Martin, Countryside’s chair, will stand in as interim chief executive while the company searches for a replacement for McPherson.

Meanwhile, Persimmon, one of the largest housebuilders in the UK, said on Thursday it had sold more homes at a higher price in 2021 than it managed in 2020, pushing revenues for the year to £3.61bn from £3.33bn. 

The company said it was selling homes at a 20 per cent faster rate than it had done pre-pandemic. It also announced the appointment of Jason Windsor as chief financial officer, who will join from insurer Aviva in July this year.


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