Berkeley to hit its profit target early

Kasmira Jefford
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HOUSEBUILDER Berkeley Group performed better than expected in the four months since May and said yesterday it would hit its five-year profit target at least two years early after seeing a pickup in market conditions.

The FTSE 250-listed group embarked on a plan in May 2010 to double pre-tax profit within five years as well as grow the margin in its land bank.

In an upbeat trading statement yesterday, Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgley announced that trading had been “ahead of management expectations” since 2010 and said the group would reach its target “at least two years earlier than originally anticipated.”

Berkeley said it had pre-sold new homes worth £850m in the four months through to 31 August, and has secured seven new property sites in the past three months alone.

It has also been granted improved planning consents on schemes in Battersea, Kew, North Bersted and Gillingham among others.

The group said its focus on London and south east property market had helped it to outperform despite tough market conditions

But Shore Capital analyst Jon Bell warned that Berkeley was “not immune to the ongoing issues in the wider housing market, particularly continued poor mortgage availability.”

Analysts say plans unveiled in June to return £1.7bn to shareholders over ten years, may now be accelerated.