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Crest Nicholson to increase housebuilding rates

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has pledged to increase its activity after posting a surge in profits for the first half of the year.

The Surrey-based firm, which returned to the stock market earlier this year after five years as a private company, recorded pre-tax profits of £28.1 million.

In a statement, it announced that housing revenue was up 30 per cent on 2012 in reflection of its growing number of sales outlets and higher average selling prices on the open market.

Chief executive Stephen Stone said the results represented "a strong start to our return as a listed company".

He added: "Purchaser demand for high quality homes, on well designed developments, remains robust and signs of improved access to mortgages together with the initiatives that the Government has put in place should help to stimulate activity in the industry."

Mr Stone claimed Crest Nicholson will respond to the jump in sales by "increasing its production levels", providing it receives the necessary level of cooperation from lenders and planning authorities.

However, he also indicated that this growth in construction volume will not be fully realised until "the end of the calendar year".

The company, which posted an operating profit of £73.3 million in 2012, is set to enter the FTSE 250 index when markets close at the end of the week.

Its sales have been boosted by the government's flagship Help to Buy scheme, which allows buyers to pay a deposit of just five per cent and take out an equity loan from the government for up to 20 per cent of the property's value.

Speaking to Building, Mr Stone said the housebuilding industry must respond to recent increases in profitability by significantly increasing supply.

Crest Nicholson has a target of building 2,500 homes a year by 2016 or 2017, up from 1,800 in 2012. 

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