Housebuilder wants seven businesses to each build at least 600 units, as it posts record pre-tax profit of £325m
Housebuilder Persimmon has told seven of its regional businesses that they must step up their output to at least 600 units a year.

The trading arms include the Thames Valley, Essex, and recently opened offices in Teesside in north-east England. The Essex office produces about 400 homes and Teesside is expected to build 200 homes in its first year.

John White, chief executive of Persimmon, said: "These seven operations are currently doing fewer than 500 units each. We will be looking to grow these over the next two to three years."

This growth will include increases in the number of homes built by the firm's upmarket subsidiary, Charles Church.

Seven of Charles Church's offices produce fewer than 300 units, which is considered a high number for high cost homes. Persimmon will open Charles Church offices in the north-west of England and in Scotland later this year.

Persimmon might also make an acquisition this year – one major buy would put it in the FTSE 100 – and rumours persist that it is interested in Westbury Homes. At the weekend it was the 123rd largest UK company. White said: "It's not an aim to get into the FTSE 100, but we would be pleased and delighted if that was the case."

White made his comments after issuing the firm's 2003 results. Persimmon posted a record pre-tax profit of £325.5m, a rise of £84.9m on 2002.

This is an increase in value of 32% over our sales in 2003

Duncan Davidson, Persimmon

Turnover was £1.9bn, nearly £200m higher than the previous year.

Persimmon's landbank totals 57,222 plots, enough to last 4.7 years. It has also increased its dividend by 21% to 18.3p a share.

Chairman Duncan Davidson said that house sales for this year were at a record level of more than 6000, valued at £976m.

He added: "This is an increase in value of 32% over our sales at the same date in 2003.