By Kristy Dorsey

Persimmon’s sales offices and show homes in England will re-open today, but activity in Scotland remains at a standstill pending further guidance from the Scottish Government.

In a trading update on Thursday, the UK’s most profitable housebuilder said on-site sales activity will resume in England with “strict new social distancing” and additional hygiene measures in place. Sales consultations will initially be restricted to pre-booked appointments.

This follows a phased return to work on its construction sites in England and Wales more than two weeks ago. As of last week, Persimmon had restored approximately 65% of its production capacity in areas where it has been allowed to do so.

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The move follows the Prime Minister’s national address on Sunday in which he announced the easing of some lockdown measures in England. Persimmon chief executive David Jenkinson credited his company’s swift response to the fact that it chose to continue paying all staff in full throughout the enforced closure, rather than putting employees on furlough.

“Persimmon decided not to access any form of Government support during the shutdown period and has maintained its commitments to its colleagues and communities in full throughout,” he said.

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“Now, as we re-start activity, this decision is also enabling us to get back to work swiftly and safely. Persimmon is open for business and we are looking forward to welcoming customers back to site and continuing to play our part in rebuilding Britain’s economy.”

During the eight weeks to May 10, the group secured 1,351 gross private sales reservations and a total of 1,300 legal completions. Persimmon said cancellation levels remained “in line with historic trends”.

Even so, the company’s shares closed nearly 5% lower yesterday as investors pondered the pandemic’s impact on demand going forward.