Pre-tax profit at Persimmon rose by almost 10% to £281.1m in the first half of the year, despite what it described as “challenging market conditions”.

The UK’s third biggest housebuilder said that completions fell from 8,226 to 8,002 for the six months ended 30 June 2007, but its landbank rose 2,060 units to 82,145.

John White, the group chairman, said that profit growth was partly a result of savings following its £643m acquisition of Westbury at the end of 2005.

Turnover fell 2% to £1.15bn and margins rose from 19% to 20% in the same period.

The group said all its divisions had sites that had been hit by problems in obtaining planning consent, but added that delays were offset by savings, following the Westbury deal and tight control of build costs.

The group said it had had a quiet summer but expected a seasonal upturn in the autumn.

White, said: “We believe that as long as current assumptions on interest rates remain intact, and employment data continues to be supportive, purchasers will feel confident about job security.

“This, coupled with general confidence in the housing market, should deliver the normal seasonal upturn in activity throughout the autumn selling period.”

Forward sales of £1.35bn for the second half of 2007 were ahead of last year’s figure of £1.30bn.