Belfast Telegraph

Persimmon hails ‘solid’ housing market

The group is set to face investors at its AGM amid a furore over executive pay.

Housebuilder Persimmon has said the property market remains “solid” as it prepares to face down investors amid concerns over pay plans for its top bosses.

In a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting for shareholders later on Wednesday, the Charles Church group said forward sales were around 8% higher year on year at £2.76 billion since January 1.

It added that pricing conditions continue to be firm across the regions, with the average selling price up to around £236,500 across 9,048 homes sold in the private market, up 1% from 8,928 a year ago.

“Our weekly private sales rate per site since the start of the year of around 0.85 … reflects solid market conditions,” it added.

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Chief executive Jeff Fairburn has faced anger over his generous pay deal (Persimmon/PA)

The figures comes amid a furore over executive pay, with boss Jeff Fairburn’s pay packet having sparked outrage among politicians and shareholders.

At least one investor, the Church of England, has promised to vote against the company’s remuneration report.

Mr Fairburn is in line to pocket a near £75 million payout, including a £25 million share payout in the summer.

Earlier this year, shareholders and politicians united to condemn what would have been an even higher £100 million payout, until Mr Fairburn voluntarily
moved to calm the furore by handing back £25 million in bonuses.

He has also pledged to forgo his annual bonus next year and hand over a “substantial amount” of his pay award to charity.

Collectively, three Persimmon bosses agreed to hand back about £50 million in bonuses last month to calm the mounting anger.

The group’s recent annual report also showed that managing director Dave Jenkinson pocketed £20.4 million, up from £1.4 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, finance chief Mike Killoran took home £36.7 million, also up from £1.4 million.

Royal London Asset Management (RLAM), which holds a 0.5% stake in Persimmon, has said the pay awards were still “extremely generous”, even after the cuts.

In its AGM trading statement, Persimmon said 2018 had got off to a robust start.

It said: “Customer activity since the start of the year has been encouraging, with the group’s total enquiry levels running around 13% ahead of the prior year.

“This has resulted in robust trading since the start of the year, with visitor levels to site, sales conversion rates and cancellation rates all running in line with our expectations.”

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