HOUSEBUILDER Taylor Wimpey says its Scottish business has finished 2013 strongly and should see further growth in sales this year.

The company said it saw a marginal increase in annual Scottish completions to around 1000 while underlying prices also grew a little.

Pete Redfern, chief executive of Taylor Wimpey, said the Scottish market had lagged the wider UK one for much of the first nine months of 2013 but now appeared to be catching up. He said: "By late summer and early autumn we were beginning to see some improvements and we saw those continue to the end of the year.

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"Scotland finished [2013] more strongly than it began and we have seen that continue into 2014.

"You will probably see a more relative shift in [the number of] completions in Scotland in 2014.

"Roughly there is about four months of lag from a reservation to a completion. When the market began to pick up in the autumn we didn't get much of the benefit from completions in 2013, so that will go into 2014."

Mr Redfern said the introduction of Help to Buy in Scotland was not the only factor behind the increase in activity but he acknowledged it played a part in the uptick.

Taylor Wimpey, which currently has 33 sites in Scotland, also announced plans to continue investing in what Mr Redfern described as a "strong strategic" land bank.

Locations in and around cities and at popular commuter locations are likely to remain the focus of the group.

Mr Redfern said: "Having the right site, with the right product at the right prices is what actually matters."

Across the UK Taylor Wimpey said completions rose 7% from 10,886 to 11,696. It said Help to Buy was used in more than 2900 agreements in the year.

Average prices were up from £197,000 to £210,000 which Mr Redfern attributed to underlying growth in the region of 3% with the rest made up of the different locations of the houses sold.

Operating margins look to be at the upper end of expectations.

The Spanish business completed 118 homes, down from 156, at a slightly reduced average selling price of £194,000.

While some locations in Spain are "extremely challenging" the division was profitable in 2013.

The total group order book now stands at 6627 homes, an increase of 11% on a year earlier and a rise of 27% in value terms to £1.2 billion.

It approved the purchase of 15,667 new plots on 105 sites last year but said the planning environment in the UK remains "generally quite slow and cumbersome", although there have been signs that changes in the last three years are starting to have a positive impact.

In spite of the generally upbeat trading update Mark Hughes, at Panmure, said: "We are slightly disappointed with Taylor Wimpey's trading statement. The company is making progress but we believe they are underperforming some of their peers on volumes."

Shares closed down 2p, or 1.7% at 117.8p.