Persimmon becomes latest housebuilder to reopen construction sites

Housebuilder Persimmon is to restart operations on its sites as construction firms return to work in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Yorkshire firm said it will begin a “phased re-opening” of its sites from Monday April 27 to help complete new homes under construction.

It comes a day after rivals Vistry Group and Taylor Wimpey announced their own plans to return to work.

Persimmon shut down its construction sites, sales offices and moved non-site staff to work from home on March 25.

David Jenkinson, chief executive officer of Persimmon, said: “The UK Government has been very clear on the importance of the construction sector to the UK economy and its desire to see activity continue through the current period of crisis, provided appropriate public health measures are adopted.

“Nothing is more important to us than the health, safety and wellbeing of the public, our colleagues, sub-contractors and suppliers.

“Having spent the last month developing and testing new site protocols that incorporate the necessary social distancing and protective measures, we believe that we are now able to return to site safely and support the UK’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The company said it has secured around 820 gross private sales reservations in the past five weeks.

It added that cancellation rates remain at “historically low levels” despite the pandemic.

Persimmon said that although 30% of its workers have been unable to work during the shutdown period, the company has continued to pay them in full.

William Ryder, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “It’s good that the industry is starting construction work again, but this isn’t really the crucial factor – what matters most is customer demand over the coming months.

“It looks like volumes have taken a hit during the lockdown, which was to be expected, but if Taylor Wimpey is representative of the sector, house prices may not have suffered.”

Shares in the company slipped 2.4% to 2,137p in early trading on Friday.