East Anglia: Margins and orders up at housebuilder Persimmon

HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon yesterday reported improved margins and orders amid stable market conditions and a “modest” improvement in mortgage lending.

The national group, which is currently working on around 380 developments, including eight in Suffolk and north Essex, said it had completed 4,439 sales in the six months to June 30, down from 4,657 in the first half of 2010 but with an improvement from the lower order book at the start of this year.

Sales rates had improved throughout the spring selling season, with the value of private sales reservations now 6% higher that at the same stage last year and the order book ahead of 2010’s mid-way figure at around �725million.

Persimmon, which also operates under the Charles Church and Westbury Homes brands, said its average selling price for the first half of the year was around �162,000, against �168,936 a year ago.

However, the group said this reflected a greater proportion of smaller homes in the mix and, with the forward order book including more detached homes, it expected the average selling price for the full year to increase.

The stable market conditions during the first half had enabled the group to focus on delivering improved operating margins, expected to rise to around 9%, from 8% a year ago, and it had also secured planning consents on a number of strategic sites.

With healthy visitor numbers at its existing developments and cancellation rates continuing to run at a low level of around 17%, the group was “in a strong position for the second half”, it added.

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Persimmon, which has an Anglia regional office at Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, and an Essex office in Witham, currently has five developments in Suffolk and north Essex, at Beck Row, Carlton Colville, Rendlesham, Colchester and Stansted Mountfitchet. There are also Charles Church developments in Ipswich, Sudbury and Colchester.