After 15 months in the job, Dave Jenkinson has announced he will step down from his position of CEO of Persimmon. He took over from Jeff Fairburn after the bonus scandal which attracted a backlash of criticism from all quarters. Jenkinson intends to stay on while the firm searches for his successor.
The reason for his departure is far from clear. Jenkinson is only 51 so retirement is not the obvious answer. Although given he received over £40m in bonuses as part of the infamous LTIPs scheme in the past few years retirement would appear to be financially viable!
Jenkinson’s primary objective as CEO was to realign Persimmon’s culture as the firm’s reputation had become increasingly battered by build quality issues and a high number of customer complaints.
In his statement, 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.’
However, an independent review from December, written by Stephanie Barwise, a QC at law firm Atkin Chambers, said there was a failure to meet minimum building standards which was a ‘manifestation of poor culture’. She urged Persimmon to reconsider its ‘purpose and ambition.’
Given the conflict of the two statements, it’s difficult to determine how well the culture reboot is going and if that was a contributory factor in Jenkinson’s decision to leave.
The Ministry for Homes, Communities and Local Government has announced more information regarding the proposed new homes ombudsman.
The government is eager to create a mechanism whereby disgruntled customers have an independent means of redress.
The spirit of the ombudsman is clear and forceful from two government quotes:
“The ombudsman will stop rogue developers getting away with shoddy building work and raise the game of housebuilders across the sector”
“give people buying a new home the confidence they need that when they get the keys to their home, they are getting the quality they expect.”
But when it comes to detail it seems there is still some way to go. There is no date for the enshirement of the ombudsman in law just “as soon as possible”
Where customers are in dispute with the developer “the new ombudsman will act swiftly and independently to resolve any issues”. It sounds decisive but lacks specifics.
However, it was made clear that it will be compulsory that all house builders sign up to the ombudsman.
It will be interesting to see what adjustments housebuilders need to make to meet the ombudsman’s required standard. Will those adjustments limit speed of production or hit profit margins? And will it actually prove to be a great marketing tool for house builders to tempt second hand buyers into a new home?
The HBF has launched a report in parliament stating that the new homes industry needs 49,000 new recruits if the government target of 300,000 homes a year are to be built.
In full sales mode, the document calls on the “brightest and best” to consider a career in house building. Clearly targeting the image of hard hat and muddy boots, it goes on to highlight the variety of positions in housing developers.
“Getting your hands dirty is optional – though construction is essential to home building, so too is finance, design, planning and sales” states the report.
It continues “For the eco warriors, how about becoming a Sustainability Coordinator?” and follows with “A tech whiz with an eye for design? Becoming a Building Visualiser could be for you”
Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher, threw his weight behind the recruitment drive: “this sector is one of the most diverse and well-paid industries in the UK. It caters for everyone from the best and brightest graduates designing and creating the homes of the future to school leavers starting their very first job.”
For once I am inclined to agree!