Ryman sees retirement village boom coming

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 16:11 17/03/2014

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Retirement village developer and operator Ryman Healthcare is searching for a second Melbourne village development site and ramping up New Zealand work.

The NZX-listed company says it has expanded its New Zealand land bank and will lift its build rate in this country.

Ryman has plans for eight new retirement villages in New Zealand, after recent land acquisitions.

Managing director Simon Challies said five of the eight new villages would be in the Auckland region.

"We are experiencing great demand for our existing villages and we know we're about to hit a 30-year growth period as the population ages," Challies said in a statement.

"Auckland is the biggest market in New Zealand and it's growing strongly."

The target was to lift the current New Zealand build rate to 850 units and beds a year by 2017 to meet increasing demand. The increase meant Ryman would be building at almost double the rate it was five years ago, he said.

Analysts have attributed some of Ryman's share-price gains to its strong growth rate. In 2012 the company announced it had lifted its build rate to 700 retirement units and aged-care beds a year. It lifted the rate from 550 a year previously.

Ryman shares were trading 4 cents weaker at $8.34 today.

"Our team has been busy acquiring sites so we're in a good position to meet the burgeoning need for retirement living and aged-care options," Challies said.

"We've got eight development sites in the New Zealand land bank and they're all great locations. We're delighted to be in a position to lift our New Zealand build rate at a time when demand is starting to really take off.

"At this increased build rate we've got four years of development work in the pipeline in New Zealand."

By the end of this year Ryman would have invested over $100 million on these new sites in New Zealand as it geared up to meet the growing need. Ryman's land bank would provide homes and specialist care for more than 4000 elderly New Zealanders.

Challies said the company's next priority was securing a second site in Melbourne.

The locations of the new sites would be revealed for prospective residents as soon as Ryman was in a position to do so, Challies added.

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