Bellway joined its house building peers in affixing a grim market outlook to an otherwise on-target set of first-half results. Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph

The Newcastle upon Tyne-based builder admitted that the much-vaunted spring selling season, which many companies in the sector have been pointing to as a key test of their fortunes, had not materialised so far.

'Visitors are there, but are taking longer to commit,' said John Watson, chief executive.

Bellway unveiled flat sales for the six months to January 31 of £581.5m (£576.5m). However, pre-tax profits dropped nearly 4%, to £96.9m (£100.8m), as the house builder increased its use of incentives such as new carpets or part-exchange schemes to attract hesitant buyers.

Those incentives – which now account for £4,700 per home sold, up £700 year-on-year – reduced margins to 18.1%, down more than half a percentage point.