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Taylor Wimpey boss says house sales could grow by 10%

THE chief executive of Taylor Wimpey has said house sales in Scotland could grow by up to 10% this year and does not believe there will be any significant slow down in purchases in the run up to the independence referendum.

Pete Redfern expects an overall growth in volumes across the UK of around 7% this year.

But as the Scottish market has been slower to pick up than many other parts of Britain he anticipates a slightly higher rate of growth during 2014 as it is starting from a lower base.

He said: "In the markets which have been slower to turn we have seen confidence continue to build [at the start of this year]."

When asked if the Scottish business was likely to have more than the 1000 completions booked in 2013 Mr Redfern said: "We are hoping for higher. We are generally predicting growth in volumes of around 7% and Scotland will either be at or above that.

"Without setting anything in stone I don't think 10% growth in Scotland is an unreasonable perspective."

Mr Redfern said the company continued to monitor activity around the Scottish independence referendum but he did not anticipate any major drop in sales in the weeks before the vote.

He said: "The general improvements in the economy and housing market will more than offset any slight reservations individuals have."

Mr Redfern affirmed that Taylor Wimpey is continuing to invest in Scotland, where it is active on more than 30 sites, this year.

He cautioned it would not make major investments until after the outcome of the referendum vote.

He said: "It is not an environment we take big decisions in until there is a little bit more certainty but I am sure that is true pretty much across the board in all industries."

Yesterday, Taylor Wimpey unveiled it was planning a £50 million cash return to investors this year and £200m in 2015.

That came on the back of a 13.7% rise in 2013 revenue from £2.02 billion to close to £2.3bn with profit before tax and exceptional items rising more than 47% from £181.8m to £268.4m.

Mr Redfern said the cash return was a way to reward investors as the company did not want to put "every penny" of profit back in to buying new land.

He expects underlying house prices to grow by up to 3% across Taylor Wimpey's operations this year.

Shares slid 6.7p, or 5.24%, to 119.7p.

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