Housebuilder halves regional offices and cuts jobs after making a loss for last six months of 2001.
Gleeson Homes has made 30 staff redundant and trimmed its regional management after posting a £1.5m loss for the six months to 31 December 2001.

Managing director Terry Massingham, who replaced Clive Wilding after the problems were first announced last year, said the number of regional bases would be reduced from four to two.

The division's northern England operations will be managed from its base in Haydock, Lancashire, and its office in Sheffield will be closed. Gleeson's South-east base, in Surrey, and its South-west base, in Wiltshire, are to be merged and relocated to a new headquarters in the M3/M4 corridor, south-west of London.

Massingham said halving the number of regional bases would not affect the division's expansion plans. He said: "It does, however, more accurately reflect the scale of the business and will permit improved cost effectiveness in each geographical area."

The changes will lead to the loss of 30 jobs out of a total staff of 150. A number of employees from the Sheffield office will be absorbed into a new division that is to focus on urban regeneration schemes and social housing PFI deals.

The £1.5m loss compares with a profit of £3.2m for the same period in 2000. The firm said its performance in the six months of 2001 had been hit by cost overruns on several sites. It said it would concentrate on brownfield developments rather than the refurbishment of existing buildings.

[Closing two regional offices] will permit improved cost effectiveness in each area

Terry Massingham, managing director, Gleeson Homes

Gleeson was one of four housebuilders to make significant announcements in the past week. Prowting told the stock exchange last Thursday that its pre-tax profit for the year to 28 February 2002 would "not be less than £3.5m" compared with £27.5m the previous year. The firm is due to release its end-of-year results on 29 April.

The trading update follows a profit warning at the end of January that led to the exit of chief executive Steve Rosier and finance director Bob Templeman. Chairman Richard Fraser is running the group.

Wilson Connolly, whose pre-tax profit fell from £66.7m in 2000 to £35.1m last year, told shareholders that trading for the first three months of this year were encouraging and ahead of plan.

Chairman Allan Leighton said: "Our average selling price has continued to rise, reflecting the changing sales mix of the business and the buoyant new homes market." He added that the group was on track to make operating margins of 15% by 2004.