Land buying strategy pays off for Berkeley

Grant Prior 12 years ago
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London and South East house builder Berkeley delivered a sparkling set of results to the city today with pre-tax profits up 57.7% to £214.8m.

Turnover for the year to April 30 2012 was also up 40.2% to £1,041m as the company pushed up operating margins to 18.8%.

The numbers were a vindication of the firm’s strategy to buy prime land in and around the capital with £1bn of development space snapped-up in the wake of  the banking crisis since 2009.

Berkeley bought another £311m worth of land last year and aims to boost the land bank by another 10% this year with a continued focus on prime sites in London and the South East.

The firm sold 3,565 homes last year at an average price of £280,000.

Chairman Tony Pidgley sounded a warning that house builders need to be encouraged to invest to help kick-start the economy.

He said: “The decision for businesses such as Berkeley to invest is finely balanced despite the sound long term fundamentals for residential property in London and the South East of England.

“Growth requires a stable political and economic environment with well-considered policies that welcome inward investment and give businesses the confidence to invest and grow; it is essential that London’s competitiveness on a world stage is preserved.

“Unnecessary bureaucracy, over-zealous regulation and taxation policy, and a negative rhetoric that undermines confidence, create barriers to the delivery of new housing which will pose an unwelcome drag on growth.

“Indeed, there are indications across the wider industry that the recent upturn in construction levels is beginning to stagnate.”

Berkeley reconfirmed its plan to return £13 per share to shareholders by 2021.

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