The performance of the business has been outstanding with all our strategic objectives having been achieved. These include increasing our housebuilding completions, substantially growing our land bank and achieving industry-leading margins.
Private unit completions (including those managed on behalf of DGVL) more than doubled to 114 (2013: 55) with 436 units under construction across nine development sites. The unmet demand for homes in the UK continues to grow, a situation that is exacerbated by the continuing shortage of supply. The demand in the south and south east of England, where the Group operates, is particularly strong and is demonstrated by the forward sales position, for both Inland and DGVL, of £54.6m in respect of units which have been reserved or where contracts have been exchanged. This places us in a strong position and we would expect that our net borrowings, which at the year end amounted to £28.8m (2013: £3.90m), to reduce significantly over the next six months as a result of these forward sales, along with a number of planned land disposals.
The number of building plots sold in the year, including plots sold by DGVL, was 169 (2013: 451) reflecting our strategy to grow our housebuilding activities. Despite the land disposals and unit completions, I am pleased to report that the land bank has also increased by 61.9% since 3 October 2013 to 3,734 plots (including those managed on behalf of DGVL) of which 1,318 plots have planning permission. This pipeline of residential plots is anticipated to result in future gross development value of £1.1bn. In addition to these plots the land bank contains commercial space which currently generates annual rental income of £605,000.
The Group's operating expenses increased as we continued to invest in personnel, in line with our growing turnover and profitability.
Given the Group's strong earnings, growth and forward sales position, the Board is proposing to increase the dividend by 122.2% to 0.60p (2013: 0.27p) per share subject to shareholder approval at the AGM which is to be held on 1 December 2014. The final dividend will be paid to shareholders on 9 January 2015.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our small, entrepreneurial and highly motivated team for all their hard work which has been reflected by these highly commendable and record results. They also continue to create inspiring development opportunities that I have no doubt will stand the Group in good stead over future years.
15 October 2014
Given the Group's strong earnings, growth and forward sales position, the Board is proposing to increase the dividend by 122% to 0.6p
I am pleased to report that the land bank has increased by 61.9% since 3 October 2013 to 3,734 plots