Persimmon profits soar 29% to £352m amid 'robust' customer interest post-Brexit

Fairburn: Buyers Still Buying, Lenders Still Lending

Housebuilder Persimmon has reported a surge in profits and said that demand has held up following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

The company said pre-tax profits rose 29% to £352.3 million for the first half of the year, while revenues increased 12% to £1.49 billion.

Persimmon's chief executive Jeff Fairburn said that, despite increased uncertainty, customer interest since the vote has been "robust".

He said: "While the result of the EU referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, customer interest since then has been robust with visitor numbers to our sites around 20% ahead year on year.

"Our private sale reservation rate since 1 July is currently 17% ahead of the same period last year. The group is now trading through the traditionally slower summer weeks but customer demand remains encouraging and we anticipate a good autumn sales season."

Persimmon and its listed rivals saw shares surge after the Bank of England slashed interest rates to 0.25% from 0.5% and unveiled a package of measures worth up to £170 billion.

With more rate cuts likely before the end of the year, housebuilders are seen as being among the biggest beneficiaries of the Bank's economic recovery plan.

However, Persimmon added that it will "remain cautious" with respect to new land investment in the face of uncertainty created by the vote.

"After a modest increase in the week following the referendum result, cancellations have returned to normal levels and are currently running slightly lower than the same period last year.

"The overall shortage of supply of housing in the UK may provide a degree of support to the housing market ... Action taken by the Government to adjust policy to support UK economic performance may provide further mitigation as might any response with respect to interest rates by the Bank of England," the company said.

The firm said completions increased 6% to 7,238 new homes sold, with the average selling price also rising 6% to £205,762.

Persimmon added that, with the cost of mortgage funding "remaining at compelling levels", supported by a competitive lending market, the housing market "across our regions remains confident".