Former Berkeley Homes boss starts Cadenza after quitting father's firm for "a fresh challenge".
former Berkeley Homes managing director Tony Pidgley Jr has set up a new company, five months after leaving his father's firm.

Pidgley caused a sensation in the City when he left his father's Berkeley Group in April. He said at the time that he wanted a "fresh challenge" despite being in his post for only two-and-a-half years. Most commentators had assumed that he was being groomed to head the group.

Pidgley set up housebuilder Cadenza in May, but it did not start operating until his "gardening leave" from Berkeley ended in September.

He said: "We are already looking at a couple of schemes, including one for 300-400 units."

London-based Cadenza will focus on mixed-use schemes. Construction work will be contracted out and the firm is looking for partners, but Pidgley said he did not think Berkeley would be among them.

The firm's immediate goal is to buy land subject to planning approval and Pidgley said he had the cash to do it. "We have started with a strong cash base and I have put a lot of personal equity into the business."

Pidgley expressed no concern over the weakening housing market and said it would present Cadenza with opportunities to buy land at lower prices.

We are already looking a couple of schemes, including one for 300 units

Tony Pidgley Jr, Cadenza

He added: "I set up Thirlstone Homes in 1990, and starting in leaner times is very good business discipline – you have to take things carefully."

Pidgley sold Thirlstone to Berkeley in 1998 for nearly £20m before becoming Berkeley Homes' managing director. He has set up Cadenza with former Thirlstone Homes finance director Edward Nevett.

Meanwhile, Rob Perrins, the man who replaced Pidgley at Berkeley Homes, was last week named finance director of the Berkeley Group. The appointment ends a 14-month search for a replacement for James Corr, who left after eight weeks in September 2000.

Tony Pidgley Sr announced that Berkeley Homes, which is the group's largest company, would be split into two smaller units covering the Home Counties and London. He said: "It's the most logical thing to split them up, because the businesses are different even though they share many similarities. We also want to make the businesses smaller and more specialised."

Berkeley insiders Paddy Sweetman and Andrew Saunders-Davies will run the London and Home Counties businesses respectively.