Taylor Wimpey has brought back all its employees from furlough after it reported a “very high level of demand” in home sales.
The housebuilder announced that all its staff had returned to work by the start of June, but with many still working from home as its offices remain closed to all but essential visits. Taylor Wimpey furloughed an unknown number of workers in March as it shut all sites and offices amid the coronavirus lockdown. The group is the first housebuilder to bring all staff back from the government’s employment retention scheme.
In a trading update this morning, the company also announced its order book has continued to increase, with the figure up to £2.8bn by the end of May. This is an increase of £264m compared to 2019’s equivalent period (£2.5bn). The company reported a “strong level of interest” with a threefold increase in appointment bookings in the last week of May compared to the same time last year.
Construction is now under way on the majority of its sites across England and Wales, with Scottish sites also preparing for a return to work as lockdown rules in the country are eased. New site protocols have been implemented to enhance social distancing and safety, including detailed signage, phased sign-in times, strict social-distancing protocols, and modification of welfare facilities. Customised PPE is also being used on sites, including a bespoke coronavirus face shield commissioned by the housebuilder, which is now being offered to the wider industry.
Construction completions for the group in the year so far to 31 May were down by almost half the previous year’s. Including joint ventures, the company completed 2,455 units compared to 4,052 in the same period in 2019.
Land acquisition was put on temporary hold during lockdown, with “many deals that were agreed prior to the crisis” falling through. Taylor Wimpey said it is assessing land opportunities and expects these opportunities to grow “over the coming months”.
In the update, the group said: “As our teams build experience in working under the Taylor Wimpey COVID-19 Code of Conduct, we are on track to reach meaningful production capacity from the end of June 2020. Our priority however remains scaling up operations in a controlled, safe and responsible way and delivering high quality homes to our customers.”