There were contrasting fortunes for two of the the UK's largest volume housebuilders this week.
Persimmon, which became the first housebuilder to enter the FTSE 100 in December after its £643m acquisition of Westbury, revealed a good set of results in what had been a difficult market.
By contrast, Taylor Woodrow announced that it had failed to weather the storm, leading to a fall in UK operating profit of 22% to £233.4m.
Persimmon, the UK's biggest housebuilder, said that pre-tax profit rose almost 6% to £495.4m. Its performance in the year to 31 December 2005 did not include any contribution from Westbury because the deal was not completed until January. It is expected to make about 500 redundancies at Westbury out of total of 1500 staff.
Chief executive John White said completions rose 2% to 12,636, which pushed turnover up 7.5% to £2.29bn. Its operating margin fell slightly from 23.4% to 23.1% because of increased sales incentives.
Persimmon has earned a reputation for quick integration post-acquisition, and White said: "All acquired sites were rebranded immediately. In the five weeks we have owned the business we have closed eight out of the 10 Westbury offices."
White has not ruled out further acquisitions.
Duncan Davidson, the founder of Persimmon, has confirmed that after 34 years at the helm he will step down as chairman at the annual general meeting on 20 April. White will take over as chairman, and he will be succeeded by Mike Farley as chief executive. The company has created a central region to add to its north and south divisions.
Taylor Woodrow had a tougher year in the UK. Completions fell 9.6% to 8178 and turnover dropped 15% to £1.64bn.
Chief executive Iain Napier emphasised that almost half its profit came from its overseas business in the year to the end of 2005, compared with 33% the year before. As a result, group pre-tax profit rose by 2% to £411m, driven mainly by a strong performance in a thriving US market.
Chris Millington, analyst at Bridgewell Securities, said Taylor Woodrow had suffered from a smaller than average landbank. That put the company in a weaker position because the rising cost of land affected it more quickly.
"If you've got a strong order book, you don't have to put your foot on the gas so much, so Taylor Woodrow has had to incentivise a bit more aggressively," said Millington.