Crest Nicholson was this week tight-lipped about its place in the wave of consolidation sweeping through the housebuilding industry.
John Callcutt, Crest's chief executive, refused to comment on the latest round of mergers when he announced the company's 2000 results on Tuesday.

Crest has been touted by analysts as one of the firms about to be taken over in the wake of recent mergers in the sector.

Callcutt said he was happy with Crest's direction after an "excellent year", which saw the Surrey-based company post a pre-tax profit of £48.1m – up 20% on 1999.

He said: "We're very confident that we've got everything we need to do really well." Callcutt emphasised that the industry needed to concentrate on quality to win over people who are wary of buying a new-build home.

He said: "They have been given poor quality for so long. We have to raise customer expectations so that they demand quality." Crest's residential division performed strongly, with 1731 houses selling for a total of £289.7m, at an average price of £167 400 – up £36 500.

Turnover overall for Crest was £555.2m.

Crest sold its holdings in the north of England to Scottish construction and housing firm Miller for £30m last year to concentrate on urban regeneration projects in the south of England.

Callcutt said he was pleased that Crest had increased its landbank by nearly 1000 plots in 1999 despite land shortages. The value of its landbank rose by 30%.

Shares rose 12.5p to 188p after the profit announcement.