Housebuilder says it will counter slowdown in housing market by opening two new regional offices.

Bovis Homes has recorded an 18% increase in pre-tax profit to £145.2 million.

The housebuilder said that 2004 had been a mixed year for the housing market with rapid growth in the first six months contrasting with a slowdown in the second half caused by increases in interest rates.

It said that growth in 2005 would not be achieved through increased house prices and said that it would instead increase the size of the business by expanding its coverage in England and Wales and launching two new regions.

From 1 July 2005 Bovis Homes said it would opening regional offices in Bristol and Wellingborough. These two regions already have large developments in the pipeline, which Bovis said would act as anchors for the area.

At Filton near Bristol the group has control of 2,200 plots of land while in the Wellingborough area Bovis has a landholding of 3,000 plots.

Chief Executive Malcolm Harris said: “The profit and cash generation resulting from the Group's short, medium and long term investment in strategic land provides the base to commit to a more progressive dividend policy in addition to facilitating the Group's planned expansion including the launch of two new regions on 1 July 2005.”

Turnover was £559.5 million for the year ended December 31 and dividends increased 13% for the year to 20p. The Group completed 2,700 units in 2004 and said that it had increased plots with planning consent to 11,528.

Bovis Homes’ average sales price increased 7.1% to £197,900. The group said that average construction cost rose by 6.9% with 2% of those increases coming from builidng regulation changes.