- Home builder Persimmon booked a 43% slump in first-half profit after Covid-19 lockdowns crimped construction activity, though it said it had made an 'excellent start' to the second half.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through June dropped to £292.4m, down from £509.3m on-year. Revenue fell 32% to £1.19bn as home completions fell 35% to 4,900.

Permission achieved an average selling price on each home of £225,066, up from £216,942.

The company declared a 'modest' interim dividend of 40p per share, down from 235p.

Chief executive Dave Jenkinson said build rates were back at pre-Covid levels by the end of the reporting period.

He said Persimmon had made an 'excellent start' to the second half, with an increase of around 49% in average weekly private sales rates per site since the start of July, and a current forward order book of about £2.5bn, up 21% on-year.

'Our strong opening work in progress position and excellent build rate through the summer give us confidence in a positive second half outturn,' Jenkinson said.

'We expect that by the end of September, we will have delivered around 45% of our anticipated second half new home legal completions.'

'As a result of the continuing strong performance of the business through this challenging period, together with our cautious optimism on the Group's prospects for the second half, we are pleased to announce that the Board is proposing a modest interim dividend of 40p per share.'

'Further dividend payments this year will remain under close review.'

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