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Persimmon's £40m boss quits just over a year after the £75 million one

JIM ARMITAGE
Neil Hall/Reuters

The chief executive of scandal-struck housebuilder Persimmon, paid £40 million under the controversial bonus scheme that claimed the scalp of his predecessor, is quitting little over a year into the job.

Dave Jenkinson took over from Jeff Fairburn 15 months ago. Fairburn became the poster boy for corporate greed after a scheme paid him a £75 million bonus following a sales bonanza triggered by the taxpayer-funded Help to Buy programme. Jenkinson got £40 million in the same politically toxic deal devised in 2012 but still succeeded Fairburn after he was forced out by the row. He said today he would leave once a replacement is found.

Jenkinson is seen as having stabilised the business amid that scandal and a deepening row over the poor quality of its buildings. Sources said his rapid departure was an attempt to draw a line under the pay scandal, saying he would be replaced by an outsider.

Jenkinson said: “I have done what I set out to achieve. It’s time for someone new to come in now with fresh ideas.”

Asked why he had taken the job if he was only going to quit so soon in, he said: “I thought it was my responsibility at the time. The business was in choppy waters and I took it through this period of change. I felt it was my duty.”

Jenkinson had seemed to be getting a grip on Persimmon’s reputational issues last year but then, in December, a damning independent review accused it of a “systematic nationwide failure” to install fire-stopping cavity barriers in houses it was building and slammed its general attitude to safety.

Jenkinson today defended Persimmon’s culture and admitted it had been “trying to chase a little bit too much volume”.

He revealed his departure alongside a strong set of profit numbers as the group continued to benefit from Help to Buy thanks to its targeting of starter homes. It sold nearly 6300 new homes to first-time buyers, of which the “vast majority” were funded by Help to Buy.

There had been talk of Persimmon being frozen out of it by the previous housing minister, but Jenkinson said new rules yesterday suggested it would continue to qualify.

Underlying profits were down 5% to £1.04 billion but Jenkinson was upbeat about the outlook. He said there were fewer pressures driving up the costs of labour and materials and that sales rates in the early stages of the new year had been higher than last year.