Persimmon enjoyed its “best ever six months” in the first half of 1999, according to chief executive John White. The housebuilder lifted pre-tax profit 27% to £35.7m for the six months to 30 June 1999. Turnover was up 18% to £317.6m.

White was confident that the performance was sustainable, despite recent fears that the current boom in house prices is set to end.

“The South-east and particularly London have seen some very hefty price movements, and I believe they will be maintained, albeit not at the levels so far this year,” he said.

“However, prices in some parts of the country, such as Peterborough, are still not back to the levels they were at in the late 1980s.”

White said a restriction in land supply caused by planning delays would keep prices high because it would mean that demand continued to outstrip supply.

The housebuilder completed 3354 homes, an increase of 8%, at an average selling price of £94 685. This compared with £86 685 in the first six months of 1998.

White said the company’s new City Developments arm was performing well and has 10 sites across the UK that will be used to build 600 new apartments, producing future sales worth in excess of £120m.

Regionally, White said that the Central and Midlands divisions had performed very well but added that work had been difficult in the Yorkshire area.

During July, Persimmon raised a £96m loan that White said would provide resources for further expansion. He would not rule out acquisitions but said Persimmon had “good opportunities to grow organically”. He also announced that the group would be opening a new North-west subsidiary called Persimmon Homes (Mercia) in the near future.