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British Industrial History

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Wilson Bowden

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Wilson Bowden plc was a British housebuilding and general construction company head-quartered in Coalville, Leicestershire.

1960 David Wilson started work in his father’s joinery workshop and during the 1960s gradually moved the business into housebuilding.

By the early 1970s, A. H. Wilson (as it was then named) was building around 150 houses a year in the Leicestershire area.

1973 A joint property investment with First National Finance Corporation, Bowden Park Holdings, was wholly acquired in 1973 when First National got into financial difficulty.

David Wilson expanded substantially in the 1980s with sales rising from 300 to 1600 in the decade, while group profits increased from £2m. to £40m.

1990s As a result of conservative land buying policies, Wilson Bowden survived the recession of the early 1990s better than most of its competitors. Wilson then began to move out from its East Midlands heartland. New offices were opened in the West Midlands, Hereford, Hertfordshire and Kent in 1992; Leeds in 1993; Cheshire in 1997 and Glasgow in 1999.

1996 Wilson also made some strategic acquisitions including the Berkshire firm of Trencherwood, which had a dominant position in the West Berkshire land market

2003 Acquired Henry Boot. By then, Wilson was building over 4000 units a year and was regarded as one of the most consistently successful of the quoted house builders.

2007 David Wilson had run the business for 40 years and experiments were made to ensure a controlled succession. However, in April 2007, just ahead of the next housing recession, the company was sold to Barratt Developments for £2.2 billion

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