Persimmon boss steps down as housebuilder’s sales slide

The chief executive of UK housebuilder Persimmon has stepped down after just over a year in the role.

The company announced David Jenkinson’s departure as it reported that pre-tax profits dipped to £1.04 billion in 2019, from £1.09 billion in 2018, after it sold fewer new homes.

Persimmon saw revenue decline by 2.4% to £3.65 billion for the year after it sold 15,855 new homes, down 4% on the previous year.

However, the firm also saw its average selling price increase over the period, rising to £215,709 from £215,563 in 2018.

It added that customer demand has been “encouraging” in the initial weeks of 2020, with sales rates tracking above previous years.

Persimmon said Mr Jenkinson will step down as chief executive in “due course”, after 23 years with the business.

Chairman Roger Devlin said: “Dave has played a critical role in the development of a new Persimmon.

“As chief executive, he quickly set about designing and implementing a programme of change and started the process of resetting the culture of the business.”

Mr Jenkinson said: “I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve made over the last year in reshaping Persimmon’s approach and culture while at the same time maintaining our operational momentum.”

The departing boss took over the top job in early 2019, after predecessor Jeff Fairburn faced criticism from investors for receiving almost £85 million in remuneration over a two-year period.

Julie Palmer, partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “Persimmon’s financials may be on a solid base currently, but the company’s reputation is continuing to show cracks as reports of customer complaints are rife for the housebuilder with concerns around its build quality.

“This has ultimately led to Dave Jenkinson’s departure and his replacement will need to rebuild the company’s image in the wake of an independent review that reported a failure to install fire-stopping cavity barriers in properties causing a wave of customer complaints.”

Shares in the company slid 5.2% to 2,919p in early trading on Thursday.