Redrow PLC (LON:RDW) has decided not to keep its building sites going through the coronavirus outbreak after all, after some workers downed tools in protest and the company received a barrage of complaints.
The housebuilder, having said on Tuesday that many of its sites were remaining open but with “enhanced” cleaning facilities and social distancing measures in place, made a swift U-turn by Friday and said it decided to begin “an orderly and safe closure of all of our sites and offices”.
This came as the official guidance was issued by the government overnight effectively putting the housing market on pause for the foreseeable future, with anyone in the early stages of buying or selling their home urged to delay the transaction while the coronavirus lockdown is in place.
On various social media this week, the company and rival housebuilders have all been assailed by complaints about its construction sites remaining open while most of the country is in lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19, with reports even saying that some labourers and artisans had effectively gone on strike over the health worries.
All the brickies, carpenters, scaffolders all refused to work on redrow job today,???????? up the self employed— Stephen Rose (@roseys111) March 25, 2020
Why would anyone want to buy one of your homes when you’ve risked the health of your employees and the communities to live and work in? 2019 pretax profits £406M - you can afford to be socially responsible— ???????????????? (@wyndhambernard) March 25, 2020
Close your sites down for goodness sake. Why are you risking the lives of people!! #lifematters your Waterlooville site is still open, close it. Close them all!!— Kirsty (@Stige1989) March 25, 2020
Having already scrapped its dividend on Tuesday, Redrow said it was now in talks with its banks to extend its borrowing arrangements.
Following the government offers of support, management has also applied for a corporate financing facility from the Bank of England and are beginning immediate furloughing of “a significant proportion” of staff under the government's job retention scheme.
The building sites will reopen, the company said, “when there is a return to normality in the supply chain, and we are satisfied it is safe for our workforce to return to work”.
Rivals Barratt, Persimmon and Vistry said on Thursday they were starting to close their construction sites, with Berkeley also joining the group on Friday.