With this year’s turnover approaching £135 million, Hampshire based Bewley Homes is carving out a growing business with a focus on quality, backed by the financial strength of their PLC status. Associate Director Graham King gives us some insight on their success.
Tell us a bit about Bewley Homes
Bewley Homes was founded back in 1991 on the simple philosophy of building quality homes that people would aspire to own, located in highly desirable locations. This mission remains the cultural heart of our business today and our enviable reputation is built on this approach. Bewley will achieve a £135 million turnover this year and whilst we are a Public Limited Company (PLC), the key to our success is that we remain independent and currently create around 250 private new homes every year. We pride ourselves on our prestigious homes and our current portfolio of homes range in price from £200,000 to around £1 million.
How has your business developed in the last few years?
Bewley has grown significantly in the past 5 years, with an increase in turnover from £20 million to around £135 million expected this year. This dramatic growth has been possible because we are tremendously well-funded.
How does Bewley Homes differ from other house builders?
We believe it’s the quality in material and the specification; we’re very much design led. For example, we are currently in the process of trying to introduce a portfolio of standard house types but our approach to the specification is far from standard. We will make every effort getting the specification details exactly right.
Our attention to detail is exceptional, with careful selection of layouts and materials, including what bath we should select, what shower will we put in, what door will we use, etc. We will only specify top quality products and I believe this really makes us stand apart from other builders. For example, we occasionally buy a site from another developer; on one occasion we had to use their own house type but we put our own superior spec in to make it different. We had oak internal doors, where they had standard white painted doors. The kitchen and bathroom specifications also being higher.
We go back a long time with IG Lintels, in fact, since we started building, which is about 30 years ago. So I think it’s safe to say that we have a very strong relationship and as both companies have grown, we’ll grow together.
How do you feel technology is changing or improving the industry?
Technology has been making a big impact, particularly on the energy efficiency side. We have engaged with solar panels, smart metering, ground source heat pumps, low energy lighting and air source which benefit us in terms of compliance but of course benefits the purchasers in energy costs and comfort within the home. Most recently we’ve installed charging points for cars and I suppose that is the sort of feature we will be seeing a lot more of in the future.
What other methods of construction are house builders trialling as opposed to bricks and block?
I know a lot of the large house builders are looking at alternative methods as opposed to brick and block. There are numerous other methods such as thin joint blocks, hollow core clay block, obviously timber and metal frame housing alternatives. These methods are being used by house builders to overcome the skills shortage in the industry.
How do you overcome the skill shortage in the industry?
I think to bring back an apprenticeship scheme at some point has got to be the start. We currently have 4 apprentices, along with several other trainees. I know people like Redrow, Thames Valley and Taylor Wimpey are beginning to do graduate schemes. There needs to be an attempt to get people back in the industry.
We encourage training at all levels and we have a member of staff doing a part-time Masters at Reading University, another is doing a degree through Southampton and another is studying Construction Management at Reading.
What can house builders do to really improve on quality?
Quality is always at the top of our agenda and I think about it a lot. One option is to avoid damage occurring to a lot of finishes in the house by having the items produced offsite and then brought to site at the last possible minute.
We have various checks before the house is handed over to a purchaser. We employ an outside agent to do our snagging but we also use in-house staff and they do pre-inspections and checks along with the guys onsite. But training is really important as well.
This needs to be done so tradesmen understand the levels of work required so we can ensure that poor workmanship is not accepted. The choice of material is also a major influence on finished quality – you can’t buy too cheap, it will come back and bite you at some point.
What is your turnover forecast for the balance of 2018/2019 compared to recent years?
Well this year, we’re expecting to total around £135 million, next year we will be aiming at £150 million, moving to £175 million in 2 years.
What’s next for Bewley Homes?
What’s next? Continued growth as you can see, expansion, possible new region, and new office because we are at bursting point here. We’ve got a scheme constructing a new office here as well. Obviously to expand over a geographical area as well.