UK home builder Persimmon has said that the improvement in sales activity reported at the time of its half-year results in August is ongoing, and that its operating profits have continued to improve, with tight control exercised over build costs and overheads.

Persimmon has released an interim management statement covering the period from 1 July to 5 November, 2013.

It said it recognised there were slower market conditions through the summer of 2012, as a result of the impact of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the London Olympic Games, but said its weekly private sales rate had been about 45% ahead of the previous year since 1 July, 2013.

The introduction of the UK government sponsored Help to Buy equity loan scheme in April 2013, which is only available to buyers of newly built homes, has proved particularly attractive, it said. It has sold over 3,000 homes under this scheme.

It said it was fully sold up for the current year and had £650 million (€775 million) forward sales reserved beyond 2013 – a 41% increase on the 2012 position at £462 million (€551 million).

It said that in the first half of 2013, underlying operating margins had increased by 3% over the previous year to 15.1%, achieving its medium-term target 18 months ahead of plan. It said it was confident of achieving further progress in the second half of the year.

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