08/07/2019 - 14:54

Gemmill goes, signage stays

08/07/2019 - 14:54

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Prominent building identity Craig Gemmill has called time on 15 years at his namesake company, selling his stake to co-founder John Wilson, but the Gemmill Homes brand will remain active in Western Australian homebuilding.

Gemmill goes, signage stays
Craig Gemmill says he will explore his options after exiting Gemmill Homes. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Prominent building identity Craig Gemmill has called time on 15 years at his namesake company, selling his stake to co-founder John Wilson, but the Gemmill Homes brand will remain active in Western Australian homebuilding. 

Mr Gemmill described the sale as amicable, while commercial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gemmill Homes was established in 2004 as a 65:35 partnership between Mr Wilson, who was previously a partner at Summit Homes Group, and Mr Gemmill, who was also working at Summit as its sales manager.

The company constructed 252 homes in 2017-18, to rank 12th on the BNiQ residential builders list, while its $76 million in annual revenue placed it 57th among WA’s large private companies.

At the peak of the WA’s recent residential building boom, Gemmill Homes was well entrenched within the state’s upper echelon of homebuilders, with its construction starts peaking at 867 in 2013-14.

The company was nearly bought-out by Melbourne-based and ASX-listed homebuilder Simonds Group in 2015, with a $6 million takeover tilt agreed to but never formally consummated. 

Mr Gemmill said in a statement he would be succeeded at the helm of Gemmill Homes by Domenic Morolla, who had been appointed general manager.

“The name is staying, but obviously the marketing with Craig’s image, as sad as it seems, that will disappear,” Mr Morolla told Business News.

“I had a great relationship with Craig, and I look to carry on his legacy and the business’s legacy.”

Mr Morolla said no staff or Gemmill Homes projects would be affected by the ownership change, while he hoped for a turnaround in WA’s notoriously slow homebuilding market by the end of the year.

“I’m hoping that WA moves into positive territory,” he said.

“There are some signs that are indicating that it might, governments and banks are trying to do the right thing, so let’s see if we can turn this thing positive by summer.”

However, an industry source suggested there would likely be further consolidation among WA builders as the market continued to adjust to low levels of activity after several years of historical peaks.

In May, the state government’s Housing Industry Forecasting Group said it expected building to start on 15,500 dwellings in 2018-19, down from 18,124 in the previous year, and a fourth consecutive year of deteriorating conditions since the industry peaked at 31,158 in 2014-15.

“What’s playing out at Gemmill is likely the start of what will play out at a few builders if this market doesn’t turn,” the source said. 

“I’d be surprised if any builder is making much, if any, profit at the moment.”

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