May 10, 2018 / 6:46 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-UK builder Barratt reaffirms FY forecast on robust demand

(Adds detail on current trading, background)

May 10 (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest housebuilder Barratt Developments reported strong trading in the first four months of the year on Thursday on “robust” customer demand and said it expected full-year results in line with its expectations.

The company said strong performance across the business was driven by demand for new homes and the wide availability of mortgage finance.

British housebuilders have benefited from rising house prices, cheap mortgages and government schemes designed to help younger people get on to the housing market over the last few years.

Barratt, which said in February it was considering moving production of blocks used in construction from Germany to Britain, said it was continuing to invest in trials for modern methods of construction to address the skills shortage in the industry.

The firm said total forward sales had risen 2.5 percent to 3.29 billion pounds ($4.46 billion) by May 6, equating to 833 more plots than the year-ago period.

Barratt said in its trading update for the period from Jan. 1 to May 6 that it expected to approve the purchase of more than 20,000 plots for the full year to help support future volume growth.

The company said it was trying to improve its operating margin over the medium term and was on track to implement its margin-improvement initiatives. ($1 = 0.7371 pounds) (Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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