Retirement village firm lines up £170m to fund expansion


A company behind a new wave of retirement villages in Britain has secured £170m in fresh funding to build 1,000 new homes.

Audley already has 1,000 properties under construction in 10 villages built for older residents, with on-site care and restaurants, as well as homes. The firm intends to double in size over the next five years, using cash from a new fund launched by its long-time backer, Moorfield.

“If you look at America or Australia, you see a retirement village at the end of every street. It’s a combination of housing and care, and historically there are very few [British] companies that are equipped to do both,” said Nick Sanderson, Audley’s founder and chief executive.

HarrogateAudleys villages are dotted across England near towns including Harrogate Photo: Alamy

Audley sells the leasehold to homes in its communities at an average price of about £450,000 and charges its well-off residents monthly fees for extra support such as home care, leisure clubs and catering.

Its villages are dotted across England near towns including Harrogate, Leamington Spa and the Berkshire village of Kintbury, where the firm has restored and adapted a Georgian manor house. As well as starting at least two new villages a year, the firm is also exploring a move into more affordable retirement housing.

The company narrowed its losses from £16m to £4.9m last year, on revenues of £41m. While most of its turnover comes from property sales, Audley also made £777,000 from its on-site restaurant facilities and provided £3.1m worth of care.

There are just a handful of UK companies specialising in retirement properties, which are widespread in the United States. In the UK, the shortage of housing suitable for downsizing and an imminent surge in the older population as baby boomers retire is driving renewed interest in the industry.

McCarthy & Stone, which was founded in 1977 and has built about 50,000 homes, was valued at almost £1bn when it floated last month.

Legal & General has lobbied for greater access to homes tailored to older people, and Saga has explored lending its brand to retirement villages.

Property investor Moorfield has supported Audley for seven years, and is funding its latest expansion with a new real estate fund, backed by new and existing institutional clients. Its other investments include shopping centres and pubs across the country.