Hopes rising for developers

Henry Boot's Markham Valea project, which is included in the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone application
Henry Boot's Markham Valea project, which is included in the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone application
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Profitable property development remains “challenging,” but Sheffield-based land and construction group Henry Boot is beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

The Banner Cross Hall group has almost doubled trading profits for the first half of the year from £5.8 million to £11 million, resulting in a slight increase in pre-tax profits, up by £100,000 to £9.1 million.

Jamie Boot of Henry boot plc

Jamie Boot of Henry boot plc

Boot has increased its interim dividend from 1.35p to 1.65p.

Managing director Jamie Boot says recovery in the property market will be “a fairly long process,” but the market has stopped bumping along the bottom.

“Things are picking up a little bit, but it’s still tough out there,” Mr Boot told Star Business.

“We need people to get a bit more confidence. All being well, there will be a lot more going on by the start of next year.”

Boot is continuing to build its land portfolio and believes that will put it in a good position when the recovery gathers momentum and demand increases from house builders.

Meanwhile, the development market has stabilised and that, combined with increased realism among landowners and prospective occupiers, means development projects are becoming more attractive.

The group says that although Government spending cuts will have an impact on the level of construction work, it still sees opportunities in the private and public sectors. Its newly-formed renewable energy operation is beginning to identify good opportunities and is starting to secure new work.

Boot’s local projects include the 200 acre Markham Vale site near Chesterfield, which has been included in the Sheffield City Region Enterprise Zone proposals now being finalised with government and a joint venture with Royal Bank of Scotland for the redevelopment of a 23-acre site on the edge of Thorne town centre.

The group is also carrying out works for several councils, the NHS Trust, Sevenstone developer Hammerson, Tata Steel, Outokumpu, Betafence and Veolia.