Private housebuilder and property company Miller Group more than doubled its profit in the first half of the year.

Miller, which is based in Edinburgh, reported a 112% rise in pre-tax profit to £23.5m for the six months to 30 June 2004, but warned that further hikes in interest rates would seriously dent consumer confidence.

The housing division, the biggest part of Miller’s business, drove the profit increase, but profit also grew within the commercial property and construction divisions.

The company plans to continue its expansion in the south of England. Its Basingstoke office, which opened in January, bought £50m of land in six months. If that business is a success, the company would look for further expansion in the South-east in 2006. It has increased its bank facilities by £100m to £325m.

Keith Miller, chief executive, said that further interest rate rises could raise concern among consumers. “We wouldn’t like to see any more hikes [in interest rates],” said Miller, “but we will probably see one or two more.”

He said despite the interest rises the housing market remained good and said the company was the 10th largest UK housebuilder by volume.

“The real problem is getting your hands on land for detached houses but it is pretty tight everywhere,” said Miller.

Pre-tax operating profit in the construction business rose by a quarter to £1.5m, and about half of Miller’s construction business comprised public sector work including PFI contracts.

The group’s turnover rose 11% to £352.9m.