Share price leaps 94.5p to 492.5p as City welcomes news of restructuring designed to reduce cost base.
Berkeley Homes has made 19 staff redundant after a revamp of its London and Home Counties operations.

The housebuilding business, the largest part of £600m-turnover Berkeley Group, has been restructured in the wake of a review by managing director Tony K Pidgley, the son of group managing director Tony Pidgley.

The rejig follows months of speculation that a shake-up was on the cards. Berkeley's office in Brentwood, Essex, has been closed as part of the changes.

"There have been 19 redundancies, mainly where we have been unable to relocate people," Pidgley said. "The changes have also created 50 new employment opportunities. We've given a number of long-serving staff the chance to come through for promotion."

The City welcomed the news and Berkeley's shares gained 94.5p to end on 492.5p by 2 February.

Steve Charnock, an analyst at Charterhouse Tilney, said: "It seems to be sensible to reduce the company's cost base.

"Berkeley's costs tend to be higher because it usually has a lot of different development sites with just one or two units on them. That takes a lot of management time."

Under the revamp, Berkeley Homes' London and Home Counties operations will be split into eight divisions working out of nine offices.

Staff have been divided into teams with a mixture of core skills to concentrate on developments.

London has been split into east and the west. The other offices are: Hertfordshire, Eastern (Essex and Kent), Southern (Surrey, East and West Sussex), Hampshire, Western (Berkshire), Oxfordshire and Chiltern (Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire).

Pidgley said the teams operating out of the London offices had been bolstered in an attempt to focus on the specialist market.

He said: "The planning system is not getting any easier. We've tried to adapt to that by having the right specialist teams in the right places to bring forward developments.

Pidgley added that the changes reflected the government's drive to bring forward more brown land for development.

"Berkeley considers it right to establish companies with all the skills needed to react to this and to optimise the opportunities created not only by the current planning climate but by market demand."

He continued: "With this structure, each company can concentrate on its core skills and we should provide each managing director with every opportunity to drive their business forward in those areas in which they are successful."

Pidgley is bullish about prospects in London and the South-east. He said: "The market has been very good in January. Foot traffic is up 25%. We're very positive about sales."