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Thu November 26 2020

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Persimmon too parochial for disillusioned director

15 Jan Claire Thomas is quitting the board of house-builder Persimmon after just six months.

Claire Thomas
Claire Thomas

In August 2019 former Glaxosmithkline human resources chief Claire Thomas joined Persimmon’s board as a non-executive director, sitting on its pay and nomination committees, to help avoid the snouts-in-trough problems it had with former chief executive Jeff Fairburn.

But it seems she has already had enough of Persimmon, finding it too small fry. She has told the board that she is leaving to pursue other interests.  Her departure date is 1st February 2020.

Claire Thomas said of her brief time with the company: "I have valued being part of the Persimmon board and the experience it presented but it has also made clear to me my preference for working in a large scale complex global business environment.  In my time on the board I have seen clear and determined efforts to transform the business and I wish Persimmon the best in their ongoing efforts."

Chairman Roger Devlin said he was disappointed to see her leave.

Separately, in a trading update from Persimmon today, the company said that its 2019 financial results (to be released at the end of February) would contain no surprises. Turnover was down 2.4% to £3.65bn in 2019 as a result of the company's strategy shift to focus more on quality and customers and a little less on quantity and profit. Profits will be in line with expectations, it said.

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Last month Persimmon published a review that it had commissioned, which said that it was not very good at building houses and had poor quality control. Many of its houses are also fire hazards, the company effectively admitted.

Persimmon currently has around 365 developments in construction, a similar position to last year and plan to open about 80 new sites in the first half of 2020.

Chief executive Dave Jenkinson said: "Persimmon continues to make good progress with the implementation of its customer care improvement plan. Central to this plan is putting customers before volume, with new home legal completions for 2019 being 4% lower than last year.

 "Delivering the maximum benefit to our customers from our quality and service improvement initiatives will continue to be my top priority for 2020. I am pleased with the progress we have made in 2019 and there is more to do. Action taken to maintain our increased levels of work in progress investment, the increase in quality assurance and customer service resources, and our plans for the implementation of the recommendations of the recent Independent Review, will all add to our momentum."

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