UK’s Taylor Wimpey says still selling homes virtually, orders rise

FILE PHOTO: A Taylor Wimpey closed building site, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in St Albans, Britain, March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Paul Childs

(Reuters) – Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) has continued to sell houses despite wide-ranging UK restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the shutting of its business locations, the UK’s third-largest homebuilder said on Thursday, reporting a solid year-on-year rise in orders.

Shares up 5.8% to 143 pence at 0724 GMT.

Britain’s housing market, widely seen as an important indicator of consumer confidence and spending, has been brought to a virtual halt by the coronavirus lockdowns, with the government advising against new sales, and pricing websites saying it is almost impossible to measure current rates.

Many companies have also shut down construction sites as the closure of building merchants and suppliers, together with onsite difficulties with social distancing, made operations unviable.

However, Taylor Wimpey, which competes with Barratt Developments (BDEV.L) and Persimmon (PSN.L), said its new digital reservation process helped the company increase its order book.

“…we are still seeing continued demand for our homes and our sales teams have been selling homes remotely, and digitally, week to week,” CEO Pete Redfern said.

In a bid to preserve cash, the FTSE-100 company scrapped 2020 dividend payments, cancelled bonus payments and drew down 550 million pounds in credit facilities.

The company completed 2,271 homes, a 14.1% fall for the 16-week period ending April 19, while its order book value stood at about 2.7 million pounds, compared with 2.4 million pounds, last year.

Reporting by Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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