Crest Nicholson is aiming to sell 2400 homes in the current financial year – 24% more than the previous 12 months
The plans come after the housebuilder announced that its output had increased by only 37 units to 1936 in the 12 months to 31 October the number of units sold in the year to 31 October 2003 by just 37.

Chief executive John Callcutt said: "We're hoping to get to the 2400 mark in 2003/04, with 600-650 homes in the social housing sector and 1800 in the open market."

This would entail doubling social housing output to and building an extra 200 or so houses for sale on the open market.

Callcutt said the extra sales would come from the East Thames corridor, Birmingham and Bristol – areas that Callcutt said the company was "looking very closely" at expanding in.

He said that he expected further corporate activity in housebuilding sector during 2004. He said: "I wouldn't be surprised if there was some consolidation by firms on the edge of the FTSE 100."

Housebuilders close to FTSE 100 status include Persimmon, Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow.

Callcutt said that Crest Nicholson, which is a medium-sized housebuilder, would not rule out acquisitions, but has no plans to make any in the short term.

Callcutt was speaking after the company unveiled its annual results last week.

Pre-tax profit was £74.6m, up 18% on the previous 12 months. This was also slightly up on market expectations of £73-74m.

Turnover on continuing operations was £539m, up from £505m.

Crest Nicholson also brought down its net borrowing from £132m to £82m, representing a gearing of 29%. Last year this was 53%.

In his chief executive's statement accompanying the results, Callcutt said: "We start the current year with low gearing and an excellent landbank, which puts us in a strong position to adapt to any changes in market conditions."