House builder Bellway has announced a 9% increase in profits to £247.6m ($306.3m) for the six months ended 31 January.

The Newcastle-based firm attributed the increase to strong customer demand and better margins, with revenues up 6% to £1.15bn.

A total of 4,462 houses were completed during the six-month period, up from 4,188 in the same period a year earlier.

Bellway said it expected the number of homes sold for the full financial year to be at least 5% higher than the preceding 12-month period, aided by a housing supply shortage in the UK, low interest rates and good mortgage availability.

The company's earnings per share were up by more than 10% to 163.9p — the highest achieved by the firm in a first half trading period.

"Bellway's strong operational focus and consistent execution of its growth strategy has resulted in a record number of legal completions in a first half year and another excellent financial performance," Bellway chairman John Watson said.

"Bellway is achieving this growth whilst retaining a focus on return on capital employed and maintaining an appropriate and conservative use of bank debt and land creditors.

"Our strong balance sheet and operational capacity still provides scope for further controlled expansion, enabling Bellway to achieve additional, future volume and earnings growth, by continuing to invest in attractive land opportunities across the country."