Resilient trading for Berkeley
Berkeley’s trading has been “resilient” since the start of its financial year, with the business expecting a more even profit split between the first and second halves of the year, it reported this month.
Reporting on the period from May 1 to August 31 2020, the housebuilder said that its production levels had been “better than initially anticipated” and its decision not to furlough staff in response to the pandemic had also helped its position.
Berkeley’s efficiency levels are at around 90% “of normal”, but with new protocols continuing to affect production.
The company saw strong sales pricing during the period – “above our business plan levels” – driven by demand in undersupplied markets and the benefits of the stamp duty holiday and Help to Buy extension.
It is maintaining its guidance of £500 million of pre-tax profit for its full year, and its commitment to its shareholder returns programme of £280 million per annum.
During the period, Berkeley started construction at “a number” of its more than 25 regeneration schemes, including the 3,800-home Twelve Trees Park in East London and the site of the old Horlicks factory in Slough which will produce 1,300 homes.
Berkeley’s forward sales are likely to remain around the year-end position of above £1.8 billion.
The company’s statement read: “This is the first trading update since the tragic and untimely passing of Berkeley’s founder and previous chairman, Tony Pidgley, CBE. Berkeley’s strategy remains unchanged as does its clear purpose to build quality homes, strengthen communities and improve people’s lives.”
It noted the “current volatility” of Covid-19 and the risks associated with the UK leaving the European Union at the end of the year.