ENTRANTS in the Evening Press Business of the Year 2001 do not come much bigger than Persimmon plc, the York-based housebuilder which boasts 4,453 employees nationally.

And not one of them would be surprised that the firm, which is based at Persimmon House, Fulford, is targeting the Growth Business of the Year category.

Having bought Ideal Homes in 1996, Persimmon swallowed up the mighty Beazer Group Ltd in March this year to become quite simply the largest housebuilder in the United Kingdom.

The organisation, begun by Duncan Davidson, its chairman, in 1972, now has 24 regional offices, sells 13,000 new homes a year and, bearing in mind that the average price of one of their homes across the nation is £119,645, it added up to record results for the half-year to this August.

Net pre-tax profits increased by 73 per cent to a massive £83.9 million, while its landbank stands at 52,434 plots either owned or under its control, with an extra 18,905 acres of strategic land earmarked.

The company calculates that its split into northern and southern divisions will provide a platform for profitable growth over the next six months.