ARTISAN (UK) plc, the Huntingdon-based house builder and business park developer, saw a 24 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £2.6million in the year to March 31, the company announced last week. But the board has declared no dividend, preferring to keep funds in the business for investment. Preliminary results also showed a 28 per cent growth in earnings per share and profitability increasing in the commercial development sector, though on slightly lower sales than the previous year. The company, which began a deliberate policy of increasing the amount of land it owned for building, saw its land bank grow by 21 per cent during the financial year. Chairman Michael Stevens said the acquisition of development land would provide the basis for the group's future growth. He said operating profits had remained broadly stable at £2.6million, while pre-tax profits had risen from £2.1million in 2005. But he warned that the housing market - the lion's share of the group's business - had been volatile and could move against developers. Chief executive Chris Musselle said the group had sold 117 homes in the year, one fewer than in 2005, and the house-building subsidiary, Rippon Homes, enjoyed low exposure to buy-to-let investors. Had it not been for one cancellation late in the year, the turnover in business park activities would have equalled the previous years. But that was more than compensated for by better margins. The group has recently bought two new large sites for commercial development at St Neots and St Ives and had signed contracts for another in Peterborough since the year-end. CONTACT: Artisan is on 01480 436666.