The UK’s biggest builder of private retirement housing is shedding 120 jobs and closing an office in its latest round of cuts

McCarthy & Stone will close its eastern office in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, and cut 50 jobs. It will axe 70 more at its Bournemouth headquarters and several regional offices.

The redundancies follow 300 job losses last year in two waves. The firm has about 700 employees remaining.

Howard Phillips, McCarthy & Stone’s chief executive, said: “This is a sensible business decision, which would be sensible whoever owned the company.”

A spokesperson for the firm said sales had been hit because would-be buyers could not sell their homes.

Vivien Aldred, secretary of the Home Builder’s Federation’s Retirement Housing Group, said older people were especially reluctant to buy in a difficult market. She said: “Older people are more conservative. Buying a house is the biggest decision they can make.”

Older people are conservative. Buying a house is the biggest decision they make

Vivien Aldred, HBF

The news comes after the Office of Fair Trading found that some of McCarthy & Stone’s contracts with customers had broken consumer law. A term in the contract allowed the firm to charge people who bought its properties a “transfer fee” of 1% of the sale price when they later sold the homes. McCarthy & Stone agreed to remove the fee from future contracts and not enforce it in existing deals.

McCarthy & Stone is part-owned by Lloyds HBOS, which is understood to be planning a “toxic fund” for its property assets, which include stakes in Crest Nicholson and Countryside.

McCarthy & Stone has been in talks with its lenders since last summer in a bid to secure a refinancing deal on its £800m debt pile.