National housebuilder Barratt Developments plc has reported pre-tax losses after exceptional items of £178.4m for the six months ended December 31, 2009

The figure is a big improvement on the £594.5m loss recorded in 2008 and included exceptional items of £129.9m primarily related to the group’s amended financing arrangements, which came into effect following the recent Placing and the Rights issue. Group sales were £872.4m (2008: £1.26bn).

“We are expecting to see significant improvements in operating margin in the second half,” said Mark Clare, group chief executive.

The builder also reported a 27% increase in its order book year-on-year, with average selling prices up 3.5% to £166,300, largely driven by changes in its mix of housing.

Total completions for the period were 5,053 (2008: 6,905), while forward sales were £651.2m (2008: £455.8m). By February 21, forward sales had risen to £847.4m, meaning that the group had secured around 77% of its full year requirement.