Housebuilder blames putting customers first for drop in new homes sales

PUBLISHED: 10:02 07 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 07 November 2019

The Persimmon HQ in Norwich for its east of England division. Pic: Archant library/Persimmon

The Persimmon HQ in Norwich for its east of England division. Pic: Archant library/Persimmon

Persimmon has blamed putting ‘customers ahead of volume’ for its 6% drop in sales of new homes over the last six months.

Sales fell in the first half of the financial year, partly down to a new policy of only selling homes to customers when they were closer to being fully built, said chief executive Dave Jenkinson.

Over the six months the number of sales completed by the developer, which operates its east of England division in Broadland business park, Norwich, fell to 7,584 homes. It expects a similar effect in the second half of the year, although it is likely to sell more as the market is more active in autumn and winter.

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"Persimmon's top priority is the delivery of higher levels of quality and customer service through the implementation of its detailed customer care improvement plan. Central to this plan is putting customers before volume," Mr Jenkinson said.

The house builder was a rare voice among its FTSE 100 peers, saying that consumer confidence "remained resilient" despite the uncertainty around Brexit.

It said real wage growth and strong employment levels in the UK had propped up the housing market.

"We are mindful of the uncertainties facing the UK economy but remain keen to bring new developments through the planning system as promptly as possible to enable construction activity to commence and new homes to be delivered to the communities we serve," the company said in a statement to the markets.

It said the practice of forward-selling, selling a home well in advance of customers getting the keys, had fallen to around £950m beyond 2019. This was a drop of £37m from the same period last year.

Meanwhile the firm has bought 3,700 new plots of land in the period, spending more than £170m.

Persimmon said its Broadband packages, launched in the second half of last year, have attracted 3,350 customers.

Last year Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales - up 3.6% on a year earlier - of which around 4,900 were private sales.

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