Strong start to the new year for Persimmon

 
Kasmira Jefford
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HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon yesterday reported a sharp rise in full-year profits and said its strong performance has continued into 2013, with forward sales reaching £1bn.

Britain’s largest housebuilder by market value said underlying profit before tax increased by 52 per cent to £225.1m in the year to 31 December while its operating margin rose 10 per cent to 13 per cent.

The group, whose brands include Persimmon Homes, Charles Church and Westbury Partnerships, said revenues increased 12 per cent to £1.72bn as it completed 9,903 homes, up six per cent on the previous year.

Chairman Nicholas Wrigley said despite a strong start to the current year, with forward sales up nine per cent, mortgage availability remains the key constraint to the market.

“However, there are some signs that lenders are embracing the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme and we have seen some recent reductions in mortgage rates,” he said.

The average selling price also rose six per cent to £175,640, despite current economic uncertainty.

It acquired around 14,800 plots in the year bringing its consented landbank to 68,200, or 6.9 years supply.

Persimmon, which launched a plan last year to return £1.9bn to investors over nine years, said it was on track to make the first dividend payment of 75p per share in June.

Chief executive Mike Farley is due to retire in April, with group managing director Jeff Fairburn taking his place.