"The boom is only just about to hit", New Zealand's biggest listed retirement village told shareholders today, telling of plans for "record expansion" and how it planned to increase its portfolio by 20 new villages.

Ryman Healthcare's annual meeting this morning has just heard of an unprecedented pipeline of new villages being planned to cope with what the company says will be a rapid increase in demand for accommodation.

That is a reference to ageing baby boomers and the 65+ population ballooning in the next decade.

"Ryman's co-founders John Ryder and Kevin Hickman listed to provide the capital they needed to gear up for the enormous growth in the ageing population expected when the baby boomers retire. That boom is only just about to hit and Ryman has a record pipeline of villages to develop to cope with the growth ahead," a statement said.


About 100 people are at Ryman's Evelyn Page village at Orewa to hear how the company had spent $552 million on new and existing villages in the last year, up from $478m in the previous financial year.

Ryman executives revealed plans for 20 new villages and more than 7000 new units and beds which it said were in its landbank. That will increase its portfolio by 65 per cent, a statement said.

A former hotel at Mt Eliza, Victoria to be the site of a new Ryman Healthcare facility.
A former hotel at Mt Eliza, Victoria to be the site of a new Ryman Healthcare facility.

"Work is targeted to be under way on 12 sites during the year subject to consents and approvals, with Ryman entering a record expansion phase," Ryman's statement said.

"Ryman has just received resource consent to build a new village at Scott Rd in Hobsonville and work will be under way on the village soon."

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"Ryman has also received Overseas Investment Office approval for a new village at Riccarton Park in Christchurch and the OIO has also granted Ryman a standing consent to purchase 500ha of non-sensitive residential land at 20 sites over the next three years in New Zealand," it said, in reference to anti-foreign legislative changes which capture Ryman as an overseas entity due to its wide offshore shareholder base.

Ryman has opened at Brandon Park in Melbourne and is building at Lynfield in Auckland, Ngataringa Bay near Devonport with its William Sanders village, and River Rd in Hamilton where the first residents have moved in.

The company has approval to develop at Burwood East in Melbourne and earthworks have started.


Approval has also been granted for a new village at Geelong in Victoria and site works are under way at the Lincoln Rd site in Auckland. Consent has been granted for Ryman's first Havelock North village and preliminary works are under way in Melbourne's Coburg.

New villages are planned, but not yet started or consented, at Aberfeldie, Ocean Grove, Mt Martha, Ringwood East, and Mt Eliza, all in Victoria.

In Auckland, a new village is planned at Kohimarama, at Riccarton Park in Christchurch and at Bishopspark/Park Terrace in Christchurch subject to OIO approval, and in Wellington at Karori and Newtown.

All these areas were named in today's statement and an update was given on the state of each site.

Executives boasted to today's meeting of the company's performance, saying how more than $800m had been returned to shareholders in dividends.

Ryman CEO Gordon MacLeod speaking at AGM. Photo / Anne Gibson
Ryman CEO Gordon MacLeod speaking at AGM. Photo / Anne Gibson

Ryman was listed 20 years ago this month. It raised just $25m in July 1999, today's meeting heard.

In the past two decades, it has invested $3.7b in a portfolio of 36 villages here and in Australia's Victoria. Around 11,200 people live in those villages.

Chairman David Kerr said those 20 years had "flown by" and that the company had a market capitalisation of $6b. The model had the potential for expansion, he said, and that was illustrated by the expansion plans.

Ryman had a fixed "and indeed the lowest fee" of those in the sector, he said, in a reference to how much capital Ryman keeps from people who buy into its villages.

Kerr shrugged off Auckland and Melbourne house price drops - one of the many potential threats to the business because retirement village sales can suffer when older people can't sell their own places for what they expect and need to be able to afford village accommodation.

"We have been keeping a close eye on Auckland and Melbourne. The market in Melbourne has shown signs of recovering," he said, referring to fundamentals which he indicated would lead to price rises again soon.

Auckland continued to experience a housing shortage which was why so much development was planned here, Kerr said.

As for the outlook for the current financial year, Kerr said major property developments were weighted towards the second half.

"Trading was satisfactory in the first quarter," a statement said.