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Housebuilder doubles profits in a year

Housebuilder Persimmon saw its pre-tax profits double last year on the back of increased activity in the housing market and government assistance schemes like Help to Buy, the firm has revealed.   In its final results report for 2013, Persimmon said its underlying profit before tax stood at £330 million for the year, which marks a 49 per cent increase on the £222 million earned in 2012. Revenue for the year was up over a fifth to £2.1 billion, meanwhile.   Persimmon said its average selling price also rose, increasing by four per cent to £181,861, while return on capital employed rose by 44 per cent.   The group's chairman  Nicholas Wrigley described 2013 as a "year of excellent progress", saying the firm has responded swiftly to customer demand that had been rekindled through measures like improved mortgage lending and the introduction of the Help to Buy scheme.   He went on to say that Persimmon had significantly increased its building rates and had totted up forward sales that are strongly ahead of previous years, valued at £1.4 billion compared with last year's £1 billion.   Persimmon acquired thousands of plots of land last year, bringing its landbank to a total of 74,407 sites - a figure that represents 6.5 years' supply. In 2013, 11,528 sales were legally completed, which represents a rise of 16 per cent on the previous year's figure.   "The group entered 2014 with a very strong forward order book and the early weeks of the spring selling season have been encouraging, with our weekly private sales rate per site being 22 per cent ahead of last year for the first eight weeks," commented Mr Wrigley, adding that the company is anticipating another strong year of growth in 2014.   National figures from the government show that annual housing starts rose by 23 per cent in the year to December 2013, although annual completions of housing projects were five per cent lower. Seasonally-adjusted start-ups are almost 90 per cent higher than they were in the March quarter of 2009, but still a third lower than the same period in 2007. 

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