Senior executives aren’t much like socks, but on occasion it seems they can still mysteriously disappear on you. Berkeley Group said in a statement today that its finance director had left the company after twelve years. No warning was received. No explanation was given.
Group chairman Tony Pidgley said only that: "the board of Berkeley wishes Nick Simpkin all the best for the future." Of course, there’s no point speculating what the circumstances of this sudden departure were, but those words aren’t exactly gushing with bonhomie.
Simpkin became group finance director in 2009 at the same as Rob Perrins took over from Pidgley as managing director. "We have to let the young people come through," Pidgley told Construction News at the time.
Simpkin's departure comes only a week after Pidgley cautioned that the housing market was slowing from its runaway pace last year. "The market," he told shareholders at the firm’s annual meeting, "has reverted to normal transaction levels from the high point in 2013."
Berkeley Group is particularly affected by the property market slowdown in London, with 39 of its 65 sites within the M25. Pidgley discussed the implications of this with the Evening Standard: "if the cost of buying land rises to half the price you are going to get for a unit, then you’ve got a hot land market."
Share prices were little affected by Pidgley’s announcements last week, but dropped 2.95% this morning following the news of Simpkin’s departure.