Taylor Wimpey order book jumped 22% in 2019

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 14th Jan 2020) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Taylor Wimpey’s (TW.L) order book jumped 22% in 2019 to 2.18 billion pounds ($2.83 billion), the housebuilder said on Tuesday, aided by the government’s Help to Buy scheme, and said it saw positive signs in 2020.

“The environment is more positive at this point in the year than we have seen for the last couple of years. There is a bit of pent-up demand there. There is positive potential,” CEO Peter Redfern told Reuters.

Taylor Wimpey in its trading update reported a 5% rise in home completions in 2019 and a 2% rise in its overall average selling price to 269,000 pounds.

Shares in Taylor Wimpey, which is due to report its full results on Feb 26, were up 1.7% at 205 pence at 1016 GMT.

“Despite ongoing economic and political uncertainty, the housing market remained stable throughout 2019, albeit with more challenging conditions in London and the South East and at higher price points,” the company said.

Britain’s housing market has been pressured since the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, creating uncertainty over how, when and even if Brexit would occur.

The company said it expects in-line results for 2019 while for 2020 the focus would be on cost discipline.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson winning a clear majority last month was seen as a positive for the Brexit process as it paved the way for quicker decisions by lawmakers on departure-related matters.

“I think the environment is more relaxed and confident than 12 months ago. Mortgage availability and pricing remains very good, those are all positive indicators,” Redfern told Reuters.

Britain’s third-largest homebuilder after Barratt (BDEV.L) and Persimmon (PSN.L) had said in November it was still seeing demand for its houses despite the market uncertainty created by the Brexit process.

“The strong order book…does not feel as if earnings are going to suddenly soar, especially as price increases are flattening out,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Reporting by Muvija M and Samantha Machado

Experience A Video Tour Inside NYC’s Skinniest Supertall Skyscraper

Source: Bloomberg

Experience this VR180 video in 3D with a VR headset (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) or with Google Cardboard. If viewing on desktop or mobile, click and drag your mouse or rotate your phone to explore a wider field of vision. Much has been made of New York’s 57th Street. It’s the most luxurious street in the world; more houses were bought for north of $25 million in the last five years on Billionaire’s Row than on any other road globally. It’s also rife with super-tall skyscrapers: Central Park Tower, 432 Park Avenue, and 111 West 57th Street are each taller than 1,300 feet, or about a quarter of a mile high.  

Ikea buys shopping mall for £170m in west London

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 9th Jan 2020) London, Uk – –

Capitalising on bargain prices, Swedish chain thought to be looking for more city centre sites

Ikea has bought a shopping centre in west London for £170m and is understood to be looking for more malls in the UK as it makes the most of bargain prices in the crisis-hit retail property market.

Hammersmith’s Kings Mall, which opened in 1980 and has 40 shops including H&M, Primark, Sainsbury’s and Wilko, is the Swedish furniture chain’s first shopping centre in the UK and the first it has taken over. Ikea owns 44 malls worldwide but has built these itself, rather than buying up existing centres.

In October, Ikea said it had bumped up its property team in the UK with the aim of capitalising on the decreased valuations of many shopping centres prompted by numerous closures of high street chain stores.

The company is thought to be looking at further shopping sites across the UK as a way to get its hands on sites for its smaller, more accessible stores in city centre locations.

It is unlikely to face much competition for targets from institutional investors which are shying away from the retail sector in the face of the rapidly changing market and declining values.Quick guide

UK high street woes

The group’s shopping centre arm Ingka Centres owns a portfolio of 44 centres in 14 markets around the world including Russia and China, all of which are anchored by an Ikea store.

Gerard Groener, managing director of Ingka Centres, said: “Our urban projects are all about getting closer to more people. More of our customers are living in cities than ever before, and a regenerated Kings Mall will be an ideal location for reaching millions of Londoners.”

The retailer opened its first city centre site in the UK on central London’s Tottenham Court Road in 2018 and has since opened another in Bromley, south-east London.

Both those sites are “planning studios” which enable shoppers to get advice on kitchen and bathroom overhauls. The Hammersmith store, which will open in spring next year, will be different as it will stock more than 2,000 home furnishing accessories available to take away immediately.

The company said Swedish food, including its famous meatballs, will be on offer within Kings Mall as part of its plans to redevelop the centre.

Peter Jelkeby, country retail manager of Ikea UK & Ireland, said: “We continue to respond to people’s evolving shopping habits, making Ikea more convenient than ever before.”

By Sarah Butler

Inside China’s luxury hotel boom and increase in five-star accommodations

Source: CBNC

From Shanghai to Beijing, China’s luxury travel market is booming. As disposable income in China continues to rise in tandem with its growing middle class, the country has seen an increase in five-star accommodations catering to the affluent traveler, domestic and foreign alike. CNBC’s Uptin Saiidi explores some of the latest designs and experiences on offer.

UK economy grew faster in the third quarter than initially thought

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 2oth Dec, 2019) London, Uk – –

An upwards revision to services and construction output means growth rebounded by more than initially thought.

The UK economy grew at a faster pace than initially thought in the third quarter of the year, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said output between July and September was boosted by better growth in services and construction than measured in its earlier readings.

It revised growth to 0.4% from 0.3% – taking the annual rate of growth to 1.1%. Economists had expected no change.

There was a further early Christmas present for Chancellor Sajid Javid.

Separate ONS figures showed the current account deficit – the value of the goods and services imported versus the value of products shipped overseas – shrank to its smallest as a percentage of output since 2012.

The data showed a surge in exported goods meant the gap narrowed to £15.9bn in the third quarter.

The deficit has been seen as an economic risk by the Bank of England for some time – a consequence of the global economic slowdown caused by the US-China trade war but especially Brexit.

The latter is related to fears of a fall-off in demand for UK goods without a trade deal with the EU.

The UK is currently slated to leave on 31 January.

The passing of the government's Withdrawal Agreement Bill, being debated in the Commons on Friday and expected to become law early in the new year, gives Prime Minister Boris Johnson an 11-month transition period to agree new trading arrangements.

The EU has warned that timetable will be extremely tight.

Brexit and political uncertainty has dragged on demand in the UK economy in the final quarter of the year, though economists have said there are strong reasons to suggest the clear general election result will release some pent-up demand.

After keeping interest rates steady on Thursday, the Bank of England said it was waiting to see evidence of any “Boris bounce” before deciding whether the economy needed stimulus.

It has forecast growth of 0.1% in the current quarter.

Reporting by James Sillars

Takeaway poised to win the battle for UK food delivery company Just Eat

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com –Thur, 19th Dec, 2019) London, UK —

LONDON/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Takeaway.com was poised to win the battle for British food delivery company Just Eat after it trumped a raised offer from rival Prosus NV, which put it within reach of a 50% threshold needed to clinch the deal.

The two companies vying to buy British online food delivery company made increased final bids on Thursday, with Prosus offering 800 pence, or 5.5 billion pounds ($7.16 billion) in cash, and Takeaway.com raising its all-share offer.

The Takeaway bid valued Just Eat shares at 916 pence each based on its closing price on Wednesday. The prospect of a higher offer sent Takeaway shares falling more than 9% to 80.25 euros in Amsterdam on Thursday afternoon, narrowing the gap between the two bids to just 30 pence.

But Takeaway looked set to close the deal after it said it had the backing of acceptances representing 46.07% of Just Eat shares. Just Eat’s largest shareholder STM Fidecs Trust Company said it was supporting the “materially improved” offer from Takeaway.

Takeaway and internet giant Prosus, which is also listed in Amsterdam, have been battling since October, with Takeaway’s earlier offer backed until now by Just Eat’s board.

Just Eat said in a statement it was reviewing both final offers, and advised shareholders to take no action at this time.

The bids were announced within a matter of minutes of each other in a late afternoon flurry.

Prosus CEO Bob van Dijk said his company’s final offer, which was increased from previous bids of 710 and 740 pence “delivers outstanding and certain value to Just Eat shareholders” and he urged them to accept it.

Shortly afterwards Takeaway CEO Jitse Groen responded with a new all-share bid that would leave Takeaway shareholders with a 42.5% stake in the combined company, down from 48%.

Just Eat shares were trading up 1.2% at 812 pence after first falling then surging on the successive announcements.

“This offer is a full offer, and on top of that we believe it provides Just Eat shareholders with tremendous upside,” Groen said in a statement.

“The all-share combination establishes the largest global platform in online food delivery outside China and allows shareholders of both Just Eat and Takeaway.com to benefit from significant long-term value creation.”

Groen personally owns a 25% stake in Takeaway. In conjunction with its new bid, the company said it would see full year revenue growth of 77%, driven by growth in Germany.

Takeaway said it would look at selling Just Eat’s 33% stake in Brazil’s iFood if its offer succeeds, returning half of the proceeds to shareholders. Prosus already owns the rest of iFood, Brazil’s biggest online food delivery platform.

Takeaway and Prosus have argued about the correct strategy for Just Eat, which is facing increased competition from the likes of Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Takeaway has said platforms that focus on delivery will struggle to be profitable, and it aims instead to be the dominant ordering platform in each market.

Its offer has been backed by Just Eat’s board and some shareholders who believe a combination of the companies will create a powerhouse in Europe’s most profitable markets in the long term.

Investor Alex Captain of Cat Rock Capital Management LP, which holds 5.95% of Takeaway and 2.60% of Just Eat, said on Thursday he continued to back the Takeaway offer.

“We hope Just Eat shareholders join us in accepting this final Takeaway.com offer,” he said.

Prosus has argued that without being a dominant player in both delivery and ordering — which will require significant investment — competitors will overtake Just Eat.

Takeaway said it has received valid acceptances from the holders of 46.07% of Just Eat’s shares. Both bidders have a tender threshold of 50% of shares to be binding.

Prosus said that by 1300 on Thursday, before it made its final offer, it had received acceptances from holders of about 0.0065% of Just Eat’s shares.

Both suitors said their bids were final and would not be raised, eliminating the prospect of an auction that would have taken place between Christmas and New Year.

Both offers now have acceptance thresholds of 50% and shareholders have until Jan. 10 to choose.

Reporting by Paul Sandle and Toby Sterling, 

Wetherspoon to create up to 10,000 jobs over the next four years with £200m spree

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 10th Dec, 2019) London, Uk – –

In addition to opening new premises, existing businesses across the UK and Ireland will be extended, under the firm's plans.

JD Wetherspoon is to go on a £200m spending spree on pubs and hotels over the next four years – creating around 10,000 new jobs, the company has announced.

As well as opening new premises, existing businesses across the UK and Ireland will be extended.

Most of the investment will be channelled into developments in small and medium-sized towns.

New pubs are planned in Bourne in Lincolnshire, Waterford in Ireland, Hamilton in Scotland, Ely in Cambridgeshire, Diss in Norfolk, Felixstowe in Suffolk, Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire, and Prestatyn in North Wales.

The group will also be investing in major cities including London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds and Galway.

JD Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin said: “We are looking forward to opening many more new pubs as well as investing in existing pubs over the next four years.

“We are especially pleased that a large proportion of the investment will be in smaller towns and cities which have seen a decline in investment in recent years.

“The fact that we will be creating approximately 10,000 jobs is great news too.”

Wetherspoons runs 875 pubs and 58 hotels across the UK and Ireland and employs 44,000 staff.

UK house prices rise to its highest in seven months – Nationwide

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur , 28th Nov 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose more than expected in November, according to figures from mortgage lender Nationwide, suggesting next month’s national election was not putting further pressure on the market which remains sluggish.

House prices rose by 0.8% compared with November 2018, the strongest increase since April, Nationwide said on Thursday.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a rise of 0.2%.

However, it was the 12th month in a row that annual price growth remained below 1%, compared with gains of about 5% at the time of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

In November alone, house prices rose by 0.5%, compared with a median forecast in the poll for a 0.1% increase.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said Britain’s housing market typically displayed little volatility at the time of elections.

“Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home,” Gardner said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an election for Dec. 12 in a bid to break the impasse in parliament over Brexit, which has left the economy mired in uncertainty three-and-a-half years after voters decided to leave the European Union.

Writing by William Schomberg

NYC Kid’s $7 Million Dream Home With A Zipline And Slide

Source: Insider

INSIDER tours a $7 million New York City dream apartment that has a zipline, spiral slide, climbing wall, monkey bars, and more. It’s a kid’s dream home in the middle of Manhattan! Aly Weisman goes to the SoHo loft to get a tour of the most unique apartment in the city.

A Tour of Entertainment Legend Tyler Perry’s 300-Acre Studio Compound in Atlanta

Source: AD

Today we take you to Atlanta, Georgia to tour the sprawling Tyler Perry Studios. Home to productions like Marvel’s “Black Panther” and AMC Networks’ “The Walking Dead,” the self-made entertainment legend’s production compound is larger than Warner Bros. and Walt Disney’s Burbank studios combined.

12 newly-dedicated sound stages are joined by an entire backlot neighborhood called “Maxineville,” featuring a perfect replica of Madea’s house. Tyler Perry Studios is the centerpiece of Georgia’s burgeoning film industry and a testament to the vision, success, and generosity of its founder.

How WeWork Went From Being The Darling of The Venture Capital World to Needing An $8 Billion Infusion

Source: Bloomberg

In less than one year, WeWork went from having a $47 billion valuation and being the darling of the venture capital world to needing an $8 billion infusion to avoid running out of money. This is the story of Adam Neumann, Softbank's risky investment, a failed IPO and how we got here.

Airbnb to verify every single property on its platform 11 years after launch

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 7th Nov 2019) London, Uk – –

Airbnb says it will verify every single property on its platform after a news website found a series of scams.

In October, Vice News uncovered a pattern of false or misleading property listings posted on the rentals site.

Airbnb said it would review every property by December 2020, and also promised to refund customers if they were misled by inaccurate listings.

It is the first time Airbnb, which launched in 2008, has pledged to verify every home promoted on its platform.

During its investigation, Vice News spoke to several people who had booked accommodation on Airbnb and been scammed.

When the guests arrived for their holiday, they typically received a last-minute phone call from the landlord saying the property was no longer available, due to an emergency or double-booking.

They would then be moved to another property, often in a different area and without the amenities promised in the original booking.

In many cases the guests felt they had no option but to stay at least one night, after arriving late at night in a city far from home.

But they say Airbnb then refused to give them a full refund despite the misleading bookings.

In a series of tweets, Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky said: “Airbnb is in the business of trust. We are making the most significant steps in designing trust on our platform since our original design in 2008.”

He pledged:

  • to review every home and host on Airbnb, aiming to verify every listing by December 2020
  • to refund guests the entire cost of their booking if the accommodation does not meet “accuracy standards”, and if the company cannot find another property “that is just as nice”
  • to launch a phone line so “anyone can call us any time, anywhere in the world and reach a real person”

Adam French, a consumer rights expert from Which?, told the BBC: “Holiday booking fraud is on the rise, with people losing millions every year to fraudsters tricking them out of their money with holiday lettings that do not actually exist.

“Steps from Airbnb to finally verify all of its listings are positive, but the industry must do more to ensure people are no longer being stripped of their money and having their holiday plans left in tatters.”

On 2 November, Airbnb said it would ban “party houses” after a mass shooting at a California home rented through the company left five people dead.

And in 2017, it changed its security policy, after a BBC investigation found criminals were hijacking accounts and burgling homes.

UK house prices have registered their lowest October rise since the 2008 financial crisis

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 21st Oct 2019) London, Uk – –

Rightmove says sluggish market and Brexit uncertainty are putting potential sellers off

UK house prices have registered their lowest October rise since the 2008 financial crisis as Brexit uncertainty continues to take its toll, according to the property website Rightmove.

Its data also showed that some parts of London are continuing to see asking prices fall, in some cases by £15,000 or more in a month.

The price of property coming to market at this time of year usually experiences an “autumn bounce,” with an average rise of 1.6% recorded in the month of October over the last 10 years – but this year saw a “more sluggish” monthly rise of 0.6%, which was the lowest since October 2008.

The current state of the housing market combined with the ongoing political uncertainty from Brexit appears to be putting off many would-be sellers. Rightmove’s average number of new house sale listings per week has fallen to just over 24,000 – its lowest at this time of year since October 2009. This is down 13.5% on the same period a year ago.

By contrast, many buyers “seem undeterred”, with the number of sales being agreed virtually unchanged on a year ago, according to the site, whose latest data was based on the asking prices of more than 122,000 properties put on sale between 8 September and 12 October.

Miles Shipside, a Rightmove director, said: “With upwards pricing power now pretty flat, some sellers who are motivated by maximising their money seem to be holding back. They may be waiting for more certainty around both achieving their price aspirations, and also the Brexit outcome.”

Marc von Grundherr, at the estate agent Benham & Reeves, said that while the sector was more subdued than usual, “the UK property market is yet to disappear down the Brexit abyss”.

Rightmove’s detailed data paints a mixed picture for London, with some boroughs seeing sizeable price falls and others experiencing price growth.

The average price of a home in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London, has fallen by more than £17,000 in a month – from £605,000 in September to £587,000 in October. Wandsworth in south London recorded a typical £16,000 price fall. But in other boroughs, including Britain’s most expensive area, Kensington and Chelsea, average prices continued to climb.

By Rupert Jones

Staging A $14 Million NYC Apartment

Source: BI

Cheryl Eisen is the CEO of Interior Marketing Group, a New York City-based company that does interior design, staging, and marketing for luxury homes. Her past clients include Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, Bethenny Frankel, and Swedish real-estate broker Fredrik Eklund. The homes she stages? They start at $5 million. She takes us through her 60,000-square-foot warehouse to pick out the pieces to stage a $14 million loft in Tribeca in NYC.

Bovis increase bid for Galliford Try’s housebuilding arm to £1.1bn

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 11th Sept 2019) London, Uk – –

Company improves offer to rival after its first approach was rejected in May

Bovis Homes has revived talks to buy Galliford Try’s housing businesses after improving its potential bid to almost £1.1bn and adding cash to the proposed deal.

The companies have agreed basic terms of a transaction that would more than double Bovis’s housebuilding and enlarge its affordable homes operation. Bovis, the smallest of Britain’s major housebuilders, would be building 10,000 homes a year, from a projected 4,000 this year, and would gain sites in new areas such as Yorkshire and Bristol. It plans to keep the Bovis and Galliford’s Linden Homes brands.

Bovis expects to pay Galliford £675m in shares based on its closing share price on Monday plus £300m in cash. It would also take on £100m of Galliford’s debt and its pension scheme, which has a small surplus. The two companies hope to seal a deal and get it approved by shareholders before Christmas.

The deal would leave Galliford as a construction and infrastructure business concentrating on bigger projects such as the Aberdeen bypass.

Galliford rejected an all-share approach from Bovis in May that valued the businesses at £1.05bn including debt. The revised proposal is £25m higher puts the value at £1.075and offers Galliford shareholders a large chunk of cash.

Bovis said it planned to raise the cash by selling shares worth 9.99% of its existing share capital as well as using existing funds and raising more debt. Bovis rejected a bid from Galliford in 2017 and hired its rival’s former boss Greg Fitzgerald as its chief executive after a damaging scandal over poorly built homes. The turnaround was declared complete when Bovis reported record profits in February.

Bovis would also gain an established affordable homes business with an order book of more than £1bn to expand its own division, which it launched this year and works in partnership with housing associations. It is a more stable business, while private housebuilding is reliant on the ups and downs of the economic cycle, and is more vulnerable to a no-deal Brexit.

The government announced a £3bn programme in March to fund the building of 30,000 affordable homes by providing Treasury backing to housing associations.

Analysts at Jefferies said: “We see the rationale for the deal as the opportunity to buy inexpensive assets well known by the current CEO, bringing Bovis larger market share, speeding up the development of Bovis’s partnership business as well as the potential for cost savings. However, we believe the market will question the timing of such a large deal at this stage in the cycle given all the political and economic uncertainties.”

Bovis shares dropped 4% to £10.16 by lunchtime, while Galliford Try shares initially jumped 20% to 737.5p and later traded 9% higher.

By Sean Farrell and Julia Kollewe

Barratt house builder shrugged off tough housing market to report record annual profits of £910m

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Thur, 5th Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

Biggest UK housebuilder benefits from help to buy but warns of slow growth this year

Britain’s biggest housebuilder has shrugged off the tough housing market to report record annual profits of £910m, although it warned sales growth this year would be slower than expected.

Barratt reported an 8.9% rise in pre-tax profits to £909.8m for the year to 30 June, with sales surging to an 11-year high and margins improving. It announced a special dividend of 17.3p a share.

The company, the UK’s largest housebuilder by sales, sold 17,856 new homes last year, up from 17,579 the previous year. Sales in London were flat but rose outside the capital and in Scotland. The average selling price dropped to £274,400 from £288,900 as the company continued to shift away from central London to focus on the outer boroughs and areas such as Milton Keynes.Advertisement

Barratt has benefited from the government’s help-to-buy scheme, which accounted for 40% of sales. Its rival Persimmon, another major beneficiary of the taxpayer-funded programme, caused outrage in February when it made a profit of £1.09bn in 2018, the biggest ever made by a UK housebuilder, with nearly half of its sales coming from help to buy.

David Thomas, Barratt’s chief executive, said government schemes aimed at helping first-time buyers had been “enormously helpful to the market”. The first, Home Buy Direct, was launched by the Labour government in 2009, followed by FirstBuy in 2011 and help to buy in 2013, in which the government provides a guaranteed interest-free loan to homebuyers. Housebuilders have also benefited from affordable mortgages at a time of low interest rates.

Housebuilding collapsed during the financial crisis but has recovered, to 165,090 in England last year, although it is still far below the levels needed to solve Britain’s housing crisis.

The new-build housing market has been remarkably resilient, despite the increasing threat of a no-deal Brexit, and Thomas was sanguine about the outlook.

“If you look at the period over the last three years since the referendum, customer demand has been very strong, there is lots of eligibility, including help to buy,” he said. “So far we’ve not seen a reduction in consumer appetite.”

He welcomed the extension of the help-to-buy programme until 2023 and expressed confidence that lenders would fill the gap with affordable mortgages thereafter.

The housing market has been dragged down by Brexit uncertainty, which has deterred many from buying and selling and led to falling house prices in London and south-east England.

Barratt is forecasting that sales volumes will grow by 3% this year, the bottom end of its targeted 3% to 5% range. It has a forward order book of just below £3bn, down from £3.05bn this time last year. Shares in the company fell 5% initially, and later traded down 3.5% at 600p. City analysts are predicting pre-tax profits of about £880m this year, down from last year.

The company’s gross margin rose to 22.8% from 20.7% last year. The firm has reduced costs by cutting the number of house types it offers from more than 200 in 2016, to about 20 for Barratt, and 20 for its upmarket David Wilson brand. It has also changed the design, for example by reducing the pitch of its roofs to save money.

By Julia Kollewe