YORK housebuilding firm Shepherd Homes is being sold as the historic family-run Shepherd Group continues to downsize and restructure operations.

Shepherd Group confirmed yesterday it has agreed to sell its housebuilding business based in Fulford Road, to Galliford Try, with all 60 jobs being transferred.

The firms have exchanged contracts, with the Shepherd Homes business set to become part of Galliford Try's housebuilding division Linden Homes, which has northern offices in Hessle and Newcastle.

The deal, which is due be completed at the end of May, includes the sale of Shepherd Homes' assets, comprising six current sites and five in planning.

Shepherd Homes' staff are expected to transfer to Linden Homes once the deal is completed.

The sell-off is the latest move in the restructure of Shepherd Group's division Shepherd Group Built Environment, of which was Shepherd Homes was part.

Last month Shepherd Construction, also part of the Group Built Environment division, entered into consultation with staff as part of a restructure of the business after it reported "disappointing" financial results, with losses of £8.2 million.

Around 180 jobs are reported to be at risk alongside the closure of the Group's Hire Centre in Dunnington, however Shepherd would not confirm numbers or the Hire Centre closure, only verifying it had entered into a formal 45-day collective consultation process, due to end tomorrow.

While Shepherd Construction had reported losses, Shepherd Homes more than doubled its earnings in the Group's latest financial results.

Speaking about the sale of Shepherd Homes, Shepherd Group chairman David Williams said: "This was not an easy decision for the Group board, particularly given the recent strong performance of Shepherd Homes, but this transaction represents an exciting opportunity for both the business and its employees for the long-term.

"Galliford Try, through Linden Homes, is exceptionally well placed to build on Shepherd Homes’ considerable progress and achievements.

"Growth and continuing success in the homes market demands ongoing large-scale capital investment which it was felt would be better achieved with a Group which has significant scale in the housing sector as well as a desire to grow its presence in the North.

"Galliford Try was a natural partner for Shepherd Homes and the Group board considers that this decision will prove beneficial for Shepherd Homes and its employees while enabling the wider Shepherd Group to continue to pursue its strategy of focusing future investment on distinct areas of the group, including the development and further expansion of our successful Portakabin business."

Earlier this year construction industry rumours hinted at a Surrey-based Wates looking to buy part of Shepherd Group Built Environment.

While Shepherd Homes was never linked to deal, Shepherd Construction and other Group Built Environment businesses Shepherd FM and Shepherd Engineering Services were reportedly being eyed up for sale.

Neither Shepherd Group nor Wates commented on the rumours which have since fallen quiet.

Alongside Shepherd Group Built Environment, the Shepherd Group encompasses two other division - Portakabin and Shepherd Group Engineering, employing 3,200 staff from headquarters in Huntington.

Earlier this year up to 80 job losses were announced Shepherd Group Engineering's businesses Portasilo and Portastor as part of a cost-cutting drive to address very difficult trading challenges.

However, working alongside the union Unite, nearly all compulsory redundancies were negated.

In its latest set of financial results the entire Shepherd Group reported flat earnings of £10.1 million off the back of falling revenues, down to £686 million from £748 million in 2013.

The group hailed Portakabin as its primary source of quality earnings.