Housebuilder George Wimpey plans to slash 400 jobs in the next three months as part of a cost-cutting drive designed to save £20m.
Chief executive Peter Johnson said that the number of Wimpey's regional offices would be reduced from 29 to 21. Most of the jobs would be lost in management and administration.

The news came as Wimpey announced this week that pre-tax profit for the year to December 2000 had jumped 30% from £113m to £146m. Turnover increased by £175m to £1.7bn. This was ahead City expectations.

The job losses are part of a cost-cutting drive throughout the group after the merger of its Wimpey Homes and McLean Homes subsidiaries late last year.

Wimpey says this rationalisation has been so successful that the group says it can save £20m, rather than the original target of £15m. The restructuring will see the closure of the company's south Wales office and the opening of an office in London.

The company sounded a note of caution over the outlook for this year saying Wimpey's performance in the first half of the year was "unlikely to match last year's very strong performance".