Edinburgh-based housebuilder plans to win work on back of NHS deal and new communities plan.
Scottish housebuilder Miller Homes has stepped up its drive to move into the English market.

Building revealed in February that Miller planned to open an office in the South-east to participate in the government's £22bn Communities Plan. The company has now decided to launch an additional office, covering the whole of southern England, by 2005.

The proposed offices are likely to work closely with Miller Group's property division, which is preferred bidder for a £300m deal to develop the NHS' property portfolio. This will include residential development and is largely based in the south of England. The deal is likely to be signed in the next few months.

Miller Homes, which has seven regional bases, has become the largest private housebuilder in the UK, and the most important element in Miller Group. The company's activities range from construction to property development.

Keith Miller, the group chief executive, said: "We've transformed ourselves over the past five years from a contracting business into a housing-led business."

Miller's housing business was the driving force behind the company's 10th year of interim profit growth, announced yesterday.

Pre-tax profit for the six months to 30 June was £11.1m, a 48% increase on the same period last year.

Miller Homes made a pre-tax profit of £16.5m, nearly £9m more than the previous year. The construction and property divisions were also in the black but interest payments reduced group pre-tax profit.

Chairman Bob Speirs said that the construction services and property businesses would have stronger second-half results as a number of major deals have started to come through since 30 June.

Group turnover was £319m, an increase of 13% on the previous interim results.

Speirs said: "Housing has an excellent team and a strong landbank."

He added that the company's lack of exposure to the London residential market had protected it from the slowing housing market.

Miller Homes' average unit selling price increased 14% to more than £142,000.