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George Wimpey Limited (formerly George Wimpey Plc) is one of the UKmarker's largest housebuilders with corporate headquarters in Londonmarker, Englandmarker and UK operational headquarters in High Wycombemarker since 2001. For the previous 121 years, George Wimpey had been based in Hammersmithmarker. It is more commonly referred to as Wimpey. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1934.

It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but merged with rival Taylor Woodrow to create Taylor Wimpey on 3 July 2007.

History

Early years

The business was founded by George Wimpey and Walter Tomes (the latter sold out in 1893) as a stone-working partnership in 1880 in Hammersmithmarker.

The company built Hammersmithmarker Town Hall in 1896 and went on to lay the foundations for the first "electric tramway" in Londonmarker in the late 1890's. The company also built the 140-acre White City Stadiummarker complex which included a series of pavilions and gardens for the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908 as well as an 80,000-seat Olympic stadium for the 1908 Olympic Games.

George Wimpey died in 1913 at the age of 58. His family put the business up for sale in 1919. Godfrey Way Mitchell bought the firm and decided to retain the Wimpey name.

Mitchell built up a fleet of steam rollers and took contracts for public and private paving jobs. He observed that the company could make more money as a developer than just as a contractor and initiated the company's first residential development, the Greenford Park Estate, which was completed in 1928.

When Mitchell took George Wimpey public in 1934, he set up a unique ownership scheme wherein the charitable Tudor Trust held about half of the firm's shares. The Tudor Trust later diluted its stake to 5% (as a result of a rights issue) from 34%, which was in itself steadily reduced over the years. Just before the Taylor Wimpey merger on 2 July 2007, the Tudor Trust no longer held a reportable interest in its own name in George Wimpey, such interest being below the declarable 3% threshold.

The company also used to have operations in Australia, Austriamarker, Borneomarker, Canadamarker, Hong Kongmarker, Iraqmarker, Jamaicamarker, Kuwaitmarker, New Guineamarker, Syriamarker and the United Arab Emiratesmarker.

Sir Godfrey Mitchell remained George Wimpey's executive chairman until 1973.

Tarmac asset swap

In November 1995 George Wimpey entered into a £600m asset swap with Tarmac whereby George Wimpey disposed of its construction and quarrying businesses (Wimpey Construction and Wimpey Minerals) in consideration for the acquisition of McLean Homes. The deal was completed in March 1996. The construction division is now part of Carillion. The minerals business remains part of Tarmac.

Expansion

In October 2001, McAlpine Homes was acquired from Alfred McAlpine in a £463 million deal. The McAlpine Homes portfolio included several city centre apartment projects which led to the formation of George Wimpey City, a specialist business unit which acted as a developer rather than conventional housebuilder.

In November 2002 George Wimpey went on to acquire a premium housebuilder, Laing Homes, for £295 million from John Laing.

Merger with Taylor Woodrow plc

In March 2007, the company announced plans for a £6 billion nil-premium merger with Taylor Woodrow, to be called Taylor Wimpey.

Under the deal, Taylor Woodrow Shareholders retained their shares in Taylor Woodrow, retaining 51% of the enlarged group. George Wimpey shareholders undertook a share swap, of 1.3914 New Taylor Woodrow Shares for every George Wimpey share held, enabling them to have a 49% shareholding in Taylor Woodrow. Taylor Woodrow plc then changed its name to Taylor Wimpey plc.

Operations

UK housebuilding

George Wimpey UK homes are now sold under three distinct brands: the core 'George Wimpey' brand, the 'Laing Homes' brand which had previously been used solely in the South East and Midlands, and the affordable 'G2' brand launched in 2006.

In the 1970’s George Wimpey became the UK's largest private house builder selling 106,440 homes in the decade, and in the 1980’s George Wimpey began to reinforce Wimpey Homes as a brand, focusing on quality compact housing. Advertising, featuring the famous Wimpey cat, ensured Wimpey Homes became a household name in house building.

By 2002, there were four UK brands: Wimpey Homes, McLean Homes, McAlpine Homes and Laing Homes. Under the leadership of the current chief executive, Peter Redfern, (who was then head of UK housing), the operations were merged, and ‘Wimpey Homes’, ‘McLean Homes’ and ‘McAlpine Homes’ were replaced with ‘George Wimpey’ under a new three-dimensional purple and orange squares corporate identity. Laing Homes was retained due to its more up market status and its greater brand recognition. This brand disappeared in June 2008 as a result of the merger with Taylor Woodrow.

In 2006, George Wimpey launched an affordable 'G2' brand, focussing on one and two bedroom luxury apartments. Its prime target markets are value -conscious first time buyers and key workers. This brand will be further developed as a result of the merger with Taylor Woodrow.

Wimpey Construction

Wimpey logo in use in the 1990s
Wimpey logo in use in the 1970s and 1980s
George Wimpey started out as a construction company. It is now, however, a pure housebuilder.

Wimpey Construction was one of the leading construction businesses in the UK, Canadamarker and the Middle East, engaging in a wide range of building and civil engineering activities.

Major non-housing construction projects have included the White City Stadiummarker completed in 1908, the Team Valley Trading Estatemarker completed in 1938, Heathrow Airportmarker completed in 1946, the Clunie Dammarker in Scotlandmarker completed in 1950, the Furnas Dam in Brazilmarker completed in 1963, the Centre Pointmarker building in Londonmarker completed in 1966, the Llyn Brianne Dammarker completed in 1972, the HSBC Towermarker in Hong Kongmarker completed in 1985 and the Channel Tunnelmarker completed in 1994.

Wimpey Minerals

Wimpey Minerals was one of the largest aggregate, coated stone and UK construction material producers, with significant operations in the UK and United Statesmarker, and smaller operations in the Republic of Irelandmarker, the Czech Republicmarker, the Middle East, and the Far East.

North American operations

George Wimpey also has operations in the United Statesmarker trading under Morrison Homes, which was acquired in 1984 when it was based in San Franciscomarker, Northern Californiamarker and now operates in 14 housing markets across five states. George Wimpey later added to its US operations with the acquisition of Richardson Homes of Denvermarker, Coloradomarker in 2001. Richardson has since been integrated under the Morrison brand.

Morrison Homes was initially founded in Seattlemarker in 1905 by C.G. Morrison and moved to northern Californiamarker in 1946. Operations can currently be found in Phoenixmarker, Central Valleymarker, Sacramentomarker, Denvermarker, Fort Myersmarker, Jacksonvillemarker, Orlandomarker, Sarasotamarker, Tampamarker, Renomarker, Austinmarker, Dallas Fort Worth and Houstonmarker.

The business delivered circa 5,000 homes in 2005 with operating profits more than trebling over the past five years.

Today, Morrison Homes builds a range of traditional single family homes and more compact attached town homes.

References

  1. George Wimpey History
  2. The 08 Olympics - 1908 that is
  3. Tudor Trust: Annual Report and Accounts 2007/08
  4. British Housebuilders by Fred Wellings, Page 201
  5. British home builders to swap some assets
  6. Wimpey buys McAlpine building unit
  7. George Wimpey City
  8. Wimpey takes over again as UK's biggest housebuilder
  9. Wimpey and Woodrow agree to merge
  10. Wimpey: The first hundred years - company brochure
  11. Harvard Design School
  12. Channel Tunnel on Structurae database


Further reading

  • Wimpey: The first hundred years - company brochure


External links




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