Housebuilder announces intention to expand business in 2006 in latest trading statement.

Crest Nicholson has announced it hopes to grow its affordable housing business in 2006 off the back of the continuing shortage of affordable homes.

The announcement comes in Crest’s latest trading statement, which said the firm expects housing market conditions in 2006 to stay similar those in 2005.

Looking forward Crest chief executive Steve Stone said he also expects a greater emphasis on regeneration projects to reap rewards in 2007 and beyond.

“Our focus now is to build on our excellent reputation for urban regeneration and to drive shareholder returns by combining the design excellence of our current product offering with improved cost effectiveness,” he said.

Stone said trading in 2005 had been in line with expectations, with operating margins dropping 1% compared with 2004.

He added that Crest enters the 2006 year with forward sales 13% higher than a year ago.

This trading statement comes in advance of Crest Nicholson’s results for the year ending 31 October 2005 to be announced on 25 January 2006.