HOUSEBUILDER Barratt, whose foundations are firmly in the North-East, has once again unveiled record results.

Profits before tax for the year half were up 28 per cent to £143.9m, against £112m the previous year.

The year's performance extends its track record of uninterrupted growth during the past eight years, an achievement which is unrivalled in the housebuilding industry.

"Our performance has been helped by a strong housing market and looking ahead we expect the market to remain stable," said Frank Eaton, Barratt group chairman.

"We see clear demand for sensibly priced new homes and we expect prices to rise broadly in line with earnings. We certainly don't see a return to the boom and bust days of old."

Barratt's total sales for the year to June 30 were £1.25bn, an increase of 24 per cent on the previous year. The average sale price of a Barratt home jumped to £112,000 from £99,500 the previous year.

Barratt was once a byword for cheap and cheerful housing for first-time buyers. Now the firm claims its major strength is consistency of sales in all sectors of the market.

A year ago Barratt was cashing in on the housing boom in the South. But today the firm says that its business across the UK is growing steadily, although the South is the strongest regional sector. Despite this, activity in the North-East is important to the firm.

Commenting on housing in this region, Mr Eaton said: "There is a shortage of good quality housing in the right locations, where demand continues to exceed supply, and we have a number of developments at Wynyard, Sunderland, Hexham, Morpeth and Newcastle."

The firm also has operations in the US and has increased housebuilding in Southern California.