Housebuilder Wilson Connolly reported a 42% hike in pre-tax profit to £20.3m for the six months to 30 June 1999. Group managing director John Tutte described the rise as “not a freak but a trend”.

Tutte said the result was the fruition of a plan launched 18 months ago to raise average selling price and improve return on capital.

“The southern part of the country is benefiting most from inflation, but outside central London we are seeing comfortable levels of inflation,” he said.

Wilson Connolly’s turnover was up 31% to £191m. The company completed 2121 homes, 9% more than it had at the same time last year, at an average selling price of £85 000 – a 15% increase. Tutte expected average price to rise above £90 000 by the year end and said he wished to see this rise to between £110 000 and

£120 000 within the next three years. Further growth would be driven by the increase in selling price, rather than raised volumes, he said.

Tutte defended the housebuilder’s decision to buck the current trend by keeping a relatively small bank of land held under option. “It is very easy to have a big strategic land bank – you just have to write cheques and have some options. The real issue is the quality and location.”