NZ’s Ryman Healthcare’s plans for five villages in Melbourne by end of the year may be “slightly delayed” by COVID

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New Zealand’s largest village and aged care operator says it is on track for its biggest expansion phase ever with 12 sites now under construction across Australia and New Zealand valued at $2.6 billion – up from six in 2017.

At its Annual General Meeting, Chair Dr David Kerr told shareholders that sales had recovered well in New Zealand following the end of the COVID-19 lockdowns in May, with total resales and new sales for the four months to the end of July higher than in the same period 12 months earlier.

Occupancy at its NZ aged care homes also remains high at 97%. They are small compared to Australia and are an adjunct to their village.

Victoria – where Ryman has two operational villages and 750 residents plus 550 village, construction and office staff – is an area of concern. 57 staff are currently on leave because they were unwell or had been linked to a COVID case with over 1,000 taking precautionary COVID leave since February.

“We put our villages into a second lockdown in Victoria in early July and our team has done a fantastic job to keep everyone safe over there in difficult circumstances over many weeks,’” Dr Kerr said.

“The latest lockdown measures announced by the Victorian State Government last week will restrict construction and sales activity for six weeks, but it is too early to say what the effect on this year’s build volume will be.”

Despite the disruption, the company says it already has $327 million in new sale contracts due to be collected over the next 12 months as units are completed.

Construction at its Nellie Melba, Burwood East and Aberfeldie sites in metropolitan Melbourne has been reduced, but building is continuing at its regional sites at Highton and Ocean Grove under Level 3 lockdown safety measures.

“Our long-term aim is to build as many Ryman communities as we can to meet growing demand. We are as excited as ever about the future of Ryman,” Dr Kerr concluded.

Ryman now has 36 villages and 11,700 residents across New Zealand and Australia.