Housebuilder Bellway announced a 46% increase in interim profit before tax last week.
Pre-tax profit for the six months to 31 January rose from £39.1m to £57.1m. Turnover soared 26% to £362.2m.

Chairman Howard Dawe said in a statement that Bellway's decision two-and-a-half years ago to shift out of the high-priced London market meant that it was now protected against any fall in house price inflation in the South-east.

Dawe said: "Despite concerns over the economy and the war in Iraq, our wide geographical spread and diverse product range gives us confidence that we can continue our growth in sales."

Dawe predicted that the year-end results would exceed market expectations and set records for the group, which now plans to open a division in the South-west to meet demand in the region.