Persimmon upbeat but remains focussed on South

National housebuilder Persimmon said it intends to concentrate new building in its southern divisions as it reported an upbeat trading statement.

The company said: "We have acquired and agreed terms to acquire c.3,000 plots during the latter months of 2009. Of these plots over 80% are in southern markets. Our land bank at the year end consisted of c. 61,000 plots."

Shares in Persimmon rose 4% to 488p by 11am.

Persimmon has North West offices in Manchester, Lancaster and Warrington. The listed group said it sold 8,976 in the 12-month period to 31 December 2009, generating £1.4bn.

Of these completions, 4,970 were achieved in the second half of 2009, an increase on the 4,006 completions achieved in the first half of 2009.

The company added: "Since April 2008 the market has been very challenging. During this time we have concentrated on cash generation. By doing so, we have achieved a significant reduction in debt from £1.2bn at April 2008 to £270m at 31 December 2009 (31 December 2008: £599m). This has been achieved by focusing closely on working capital management and strict cash control disciplines."

Persimmon said the Government's HomeBuy Direct scheme helped it sell 1,000 units last year. The group still has £45m to utilise under this scheme to assist the sale of up to an additional 2,500 new homes.

The Homes & Communities Agency recently awarded Persimmon Kickstart 2 status for further public subsidy, worth £50m.

Forward sales into 2010 are 40% ahead of last year at £640m.

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