Current trading remains robust with sales rates and values above year end numbers. The markets in which we operate have recovered post the EU Referendum and we continue to trade well. We remain successful at winning new Partnerships work and we had 6,623 plots with preferred bidder status compared with 2,957 plots a year earlier. Additionally we are working on a potential bid pipeline of a further 33,515 plots. Reservations remain robust and any softness in higher price points has been more than compensated for by our lower priced homes and our Partnerships division, which performed strongly during the year. Across the Group we continue to open new sites, with 43 open sales outlets at year end and a further 29 sites under construction, giving us great visibility over delivery in 2017. We have started the year with a record private forward order book up 64% and continued strong demand which gives us great confidence in delivering both our growth plans for 2017 and our medium term targets.
Commenting on the results, Ian Sutcliffe, Group Chief Executive, said:
"We have made tremendous progress in 2016, delivering solid growth, a strengthened balance sheet and marking our return to the London Stock Exchange. We enter the 2017 financial year in a strong position with an industry leading land bank and record private forward order book. Our strategy remains to deliver growth, increasing returns and capital efficiency from our balanced business models of Housebuilding and Partnerships. We see significant growth opportunities in Partnerships with increased estate regeneration in London and our geographic expansion into the West Midlands, while our increased scale and operational efficiency in Housebuilding will continue to improve returns."