A strong performance from Henry Boot's housing division has helped the group post a 9% increase in profit, despite a fall in turnover.
The company's profit for the six months to 30 June was £5.1m compared with £4.7m for the same period last year. The group's turnover fell £6m to £93.9m, the result of a move away from general contracting.

Chairman John Reis said the housing division had exceeded expectations and sold 362 homes in the first six months of the year, compared with 301 for the same period last year. The average selling price rose 10%.

"A strong order book led us into the second half of this year and, providing external factors do not undermine what is still a thriving market, we anticipate further profit growth by the year-end," Reis said.

He added that the general contracting market was a "highly competitive arena", but that the division would perform better in the second half of the year. Despite its difficulties, the construction division still performed better than in the same the period last year, when managing director Jamie Boot warned that it would struggle to reach a 1% margin.

Henry Boot's property development arm performed well. The division sold investments in Skegness, Lincolnshire and Hull, and the group said new developments were attracting investor interest.

Its shares rose 8p to 501p soon after the announcement.