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Berkeley in cash strong position despite sales slump

House builder and developer Berkeley Group said today that its sales since the beginning of 2008 are 50 per cent below its historical average.

In an interim management statement covering 1 May to 31 August 2008 the group said it will still be able to meet its strategic objectives thanks to strong forward sales of £1.2 billion and a well-bought land bank.

And Berkeley said that most importantly in tough market conditions, cash generation has been ahead of plan.

At the end of August, Berkeley had increased its net cash position to £71 million, compared to net debt of £4.5 million at the start of the year.

This is after having acquired 2.4 million shares into the Group's Employee Benefit Trust in the 1st quarter at a cost of £15.4 million (£6.39 per share).

The statement said: “Berkeley's strong cash position enables it to take advantage of the numerous land opportunities that are coming to the market.

“These are being rigorously appraised to identify those to which Berkeley can add maximum value for shareholders, with acquisitions only being made on a selective and opportunistic basis.”