Owner Fred Story said the construction arm of his empire has been hardest hit during the downturn while the house building division has stood up well.
He told the Whitehaven News: “We employed 500 people three years ago and we have lost 100 in the last three years.”
Asked whether he was considering more redundancies, he said: “We are looking at that. I’ve been in business 24 years and this is the toughest period we’ve seen.
“On the house building side we are very optimistic, but in construction it’s been extremely tough – people have stopped spending money.”
Story said he was still upbeat about the local housing market, claiming problems with the planning regime had given him a greater headache than a shortage of buyers.
He said: “We have found our main issue isn’t mortgage availability, but planning.
“The Government playing with localism is a great thing, but it interferes with the planning process and gives too much scope for ‘nimbyism’. The cost of getting plans through and the time it takes is a big drawback.
“I am all for communities getting involved in what gets built in their area. In fact, we see community engagement as essential; it can diffuse objections before they arise and people can come up with some fantastic ideas that we can incorporate into a development.
“The problem has been the rhetoric coming out of Government. It’s easy to say ‘we are handing powers to communities’ without really thinking through what that means.
“We need a process that represents the interests of a whole community, not just those of a particular group of self-motivated people.”