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Tue August 11 2020

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Now even Berkeley shuts some sites

27 Mar Berkeley Group, seemingly the last major house-builder holding out against the lockdown, has now begun scaling back some of its site operations.

Like Redrow earlier today, Berkeley says that it can no longer get hold of the materials that it needs to keep its construction sites working at full productivity. It is therefore suspending work on the affected sites.

Until now, Berkeley Group – which includes subsidiaries St James and St George – has kept sites open and tried to implement the two-metre social distancing rule, in accordance with Public Health England's guidance.

Today, however, it has been forced to scale back – not because of the social media outcry over it continuing to force employees to undertake site work that is largely neither urgent nor critical in the current context, but simply because it’s running low on materials.

“Our supply chain is experiencing understandable and increasingly considerable challenges in maintaining the delivery of materials to site,” the company said. “Therefore, we are now progressively managing the safe, temporary suspension of work on developments where this is the case. This will take time to achieve as critical in-progress works are brought to the stage where they can be safely suspended and secured.”

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It added: “We are focusing our efforts on completing a number of private and affordable homes which are close to handover and which many customers, across all tenures, will still need us to finish.  Our site teams will continue to deliver these remaining essential works safely, and in-line with the government's social distancing guidance.”

Berkeley also said that the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was likely to hit £75m off its profits for the 2019/20 financial year.

Although the crisis has only impacted on the final six weeks of Berkeley's financial year, it now anticipates profits for the year ending 30th April 2020 to be in the region of £475m. Previous expectations had been around c£550m.

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