April 30, 2020 @ 11:19 by Steven Hugill
A housebuilder has hailed its robustness in the face of coronavirus after it resumed site work.
Persimmon says its “financial strength” and experience in negotiating cyclical markets, allied to enduring consumer interest, is helping navigate COVID-19’s impact.
The company, which has an office in Newcastle, introduced a phased restart to construction this week, with officials saying they are “determined to play our part” in the revival of the UK’s economy post-coronavirus by delivering “the new homes the country needs.”
They also confirmed the builder has not used the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff and has no plans to access central COVID-19 funding.
According to a trading update covering the first four months of 2020, the builder – which also has offices in Bowburn, County Durham, and Thornaby, near Stockton, – has seen customer interest persist, with enquiries “at good levels” through the lockdown.
Bosses also said the company saw its average year-on-year private sales rate rise by around ten per cent in the first 11 weeks of the period, with its forward sales position – including completions taken to date in 2020 – standing at £2.4 billion, compared to 2019’s £2.7 billion.
Speaking about its performance, Dave Jenkinson, group chief executive, said he was proud of the firm’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “Focused management of the risks inherent in the housing market cycle has given us the financial strength to respond effectively and responsibly to the crisis and support our customers, colleagues and suppliers, and the local communities we work in across the country.
“We recognise the important contribution we make to the economy and wider society and are determined to play our part.
“Persimmon is responding to the crisis from a position of strength, to the benefit of all its stakeholders.”
Confirming the York-headquartered business has resumed some construction projects, Dave revealed it has created a COVID-19 Passport to Work, which uses Government and Construction Leadership Council guidance to ensure social distancing and protective measures are followed.
Persimmon has developments across the North East, which include a site at Aykley Heads, on the outskirts of Durham City, and further estates in Hebburn and Stockton.