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Summerset on track to meet 2013 build target, Barlow tells annual meeting

Tuesday 30th April 2013

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Summerset Group, the retirement village operator and developer, is on track to meet its build target this year, and sees growth opportunities in aged care services to complement its apartments and villas.

The Wellington-based company is on track to deliver more than 200 retirement units and 70 more care beds this year, as it looks to reach an annual construction rate of 300 new units a year by 2015, chief executive Norah Barlow told shareholders in Wellington today.

Alongside the increasing pace of construction is a growing focus on providing aged care services, with the company recently branching out into dementia care.

"There will be opportunities for more specialised care facilities to be provided, along with the co-location of ancillary services," chairman Rob Campbell said. "It is our intention to participate in these opportunities where the financial returns justify."

The annual meeting coincided with Health Minister Tony Ryall and his associate Jo Goodhew announcing an extra $70 million for aged care and dementia services over the next four years will be included in next month's budget, and was brought to Summerset's attention by a shareholder.

"Funding is important, it's also important that private providers of the sector and state funders can work together to find the most efficient means of providing care that's needed," Campbell said. "It's not simply a matter of throwing money at it."

When questioned about the profitability of aged care services, Barlow said as a standalone source of earnings it's challenging, but that it was a "very clear needs driver" when part of an integrated village.

Summerset increased its pace of occupation rights in the first quarter, and Campbell said trading in April continued to improve.

The shares rose 2.3 percent to $3.07, and have jumped by 34 percent this year.

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