October 11, 2016 / 6:40 AM / 9 months ago

Housebuilder McCarthy & Stone says trading more stable after Brexit dip

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - McCarthy & Stone Plc, Britain's biggest builder of retirement homes, said business had returned to more normal levels in the five weeks since the end of August, after a slowdown following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The company said in September that it was seeing more property reservations cancelled in the wake of the Brexit vote as potential customers did not want to sell their existing homes in a weak market.

McCarthy & Stone said on Tuesday that it had seen a rise in new enquiries and first time visitors to its developments had been "noticeably ahead" of last year.

Shares in McCarthy were up 7,4 percent at 175 pence by 0724 GMT.

The housebuilder, which was the first British developer to offer owner-occupied retirement housing in 1977 and has since sold around 51,000 homes, added that reservations had been stronger and cancellation rates had returned to more "normal" levels.

The firm's forward order book, including legal completions since Sept. 1, was about 173 million pounds ($215 million), compared with 177 million pounds a year earlier.

Property was one of the sectors hardest hit by the June 23 referendum on Britain's EU membership. The country's biggest builders and estate agents saw their share prices plunge and investors pulled money from commercial funds, leading many to be suspended.

McCarthy & Stone said last month that its rate of cancellations of house reservations had "pretty much" doubled in June and July versus the average of 15 percent to 20 percent, with the relatively expensive Southeast of England hit hardest.

However, some builders and data have indicated some stabilisation of demand in recent weeks. Housebuilder Persimmon, said in August it had seen a jump in reservations by new home buyers, Barratt Developments said last month that sales had risen since the leave vote and Berkeley Group said the property market had stabilised in August.

McCarthy & Stone also said its finance boss Nick Maddock was leaving to take up the CFO position at building materials supplier SIG Plc.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens

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