HOUSEBUILDER Bellway was yesterday preparing investors for another record year following the news that interim pre-tax profits had surged 46 per cent to £57.1m.

The Newcastle firm said the performance so far indicated results for the year to July 31 were likely to exceed market expectations.

It has benefited from the sale of a record 2,470 homes during the six months to January 31 - an increase of seven per cent as turnover advanced to £362.2m from £287.7m a year earlier. The company reported annual pre-tax profits for the past financial year of £125.3m, up 24 per cent.

* Construction group George Wimpey said it was building on a solid start to 2003 after selling prices continued to rise.

John Robinson, chairman, told shareholders at the group's annual meeting that trading had been healthy since it reported an encouraging start to the year five weeks ago.