Housebuilder Persimmon’s pension surplus shrinks amid falling profits

The pension surplus of housebuilding firm Persimmon decreased by £8.9m year-on-year amid falling profits, its half-year report has revealed.

The surplus shrunk from £96.7m in June 2018 to £90.6m in December 2018, before falling further to £87.8m in June 2019.

Scheme assets fell by nearly £30m to £616.8m between June and December 2018, before recovering and reaching £661.8m in June 2019.

However, the scheme’s liabilities increased by £24.4m year-on-year and by £47.8m in six months, as of 30 June 2019, up to £574m.

Persimmon also recognised a total £3.7m loss on its defined benefit scheme, after recognising gains of £27.4m and £13m in June and December 2018, respectively.

Its half-year report revealed that it paid £397.7m in dividends, compared to £388.5m last year.

The firm had faced criticism over the safety and standard of its houses, and over management bonuses it paid out.

Its pre-tax profit totalled £509.3m, down by 1.4 per cent for the six months ending 30 June 2019.

Commenting on the report, Persimmon group chief executive, Dave Jenkinson, said: "Improving the quality and service delivered to our customers remains our top priority and I am encouraged with the progress made in the first half, which clearly shows that Persimmon is changing.

"The improvements to our customer service approach had two main impacts in the period. First, customer service spend increased by around 40 per cent year-on-year and these additional initiatives are anticipated to increase our annual customer care costs by an estimated £15m.

"Second, and as noted earlier in the year, our decision to invest an additional £140m in work in progress as we held back some sites for later sales release to give customers more accurate moving-in dates reduced the group's overall sales volumes. Allowing for these impacts, Persimmon's trading in the first half of 2019 was strong."

"I am proud of the commitment and dedication our teams have shown in supporting the many initiatives we have introduced to deliver a step change in our customers' experience."

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