Persimmon sees revenues rise in 2021, but reveals Omicron disruption

Housebuilder Persimmon has seen a rise in staff absences and home-buyers delaying house moves due to the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The group said the Omicron outbreak had led to further disruption among its workforce, supply chains and customer support services in the final weeks of 2021.

It said: “The corresponding updated Government guidance has led to a pick-up in sickness-related absenteeism, with some customers also choosing to delay moving into their new home as they isolated in line with best advice.”

Despite this, Persimmon stressed it had “managed the ongoing challenges of the pandemic well”.

Its full-year update showed group revenues reached £3.61 billion in 2021, up 8% on 2020 and close to recovering to pre-pandemic levels, at just 1% below the £3.65 billion posted in 2019.

Average private selling prices lifted around 3% to £259,200 over the year, with total overall prices up 2.8% at £23,050 on the 14,551 homes sold.

Its forward orders slipped to £1.62 billion from £1.69 billion in 2020, though they were up around a fifth when compared with pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Shares fell 2% after the update.

Persimmon chief executive Dean Finch said: “Whilst the industry continues to face the ongoing operational and economic challenges as a consequence of the pandemic, particularly as the Omicron outbreak unfolded in the last six weeks of the year, the group continues to manage these ongoing challenges comprehensively.”

The update follows the Government’s announcement on Monday that all leaseholders in high-rise blocks should not have to pay for remediation works on dangerous cladding, including those in properties between 11 metres and 18 metres tall.

Persimmon said: “We share the Secretary of State’s aspiration that leaseholders should not have to pay to remove cladding.

“Indeed, we made a commitment a year ago that leaseholders in buildings constructed by Persimmon, including all those above 11 metres, should not have to cover the cost of cladding removal.”

The group reiterated that it constructed only a “very small proportion” of buildings affected by cladding issues.