Persimmon built 543 extra houses last year despite the Government's drive to boost volumes. Persimmon says in a trading statement today that its focus continues to be operating margins which rose to 13% last year with a future target of between 15% and 17%. 

The volume of new homes completed increased by 6% to 9,903 from 9,360 in 2011. Persimmon said: "Margin improvement remains a key part of our strategy, with the medium term aim of returning to underlying operating margins within the range of 15% to 17%.

"We believe we have made further encouraging strides towards achieving this objective through the launch of new sites offering attractive returns and exercising firm control over our costs."

Persimmon is currently sitting on a land bank of 68 000 plots. The firm also announced a restructure yesterday which will see its three operating divisions (North, Central and South) become two divisions (North and South). Persimmon's 24 operating businesses will be split evenly between these divisions.