Master builder quits Taylor Wimpey after 15 jare: Pete Redfern leaves firm he created in rude health… but don’t forget the scandals
The man who turned Taylor Wimpey into a housing powerhouse is to leave after almost 15 years at the helm.
Pete Redfern, who negotiated the creation of the UK’s third-largest housebuilder in a cafe on the M40, is off once a replacement has been found and a full handover has taken place.
He is the longest-serving chief executive among the large listed housebuilders, and among a minority in the FTSE 100 to have held the job for more than a decade.
Stepping down: Taylor Wimpey’s Pete Redfern (op die foto) is the longest-serving chief exec of the big housebuilders, and among a minority in the FTSE to have held the job for over a decade
Recruitment of his replacement is already ‘advanced’, and internal and external candidates are being considered.
Rumours swirled that the departure may be linked to activist investor Elliott, which was reported at the weekend to have taken a stake in the firm, prompting speculation of demands for a management overhaul.
Redfern, 51, gesê: ‘It has been a privilege to work at Taylor Wimpey for the last two decades and to lead a business of which I am so proud. It is in excellent health and well-positioned for strong future growth.’
The shares rose 0.9 persent, or 1.5p, to 169.3p, and analyst Laura Hoy at Hargreaves Lansdown said it ‘feels like the right time for a shift in leadership’.
It will be the first time in its history that Taylor Wimpey has not had Redfern at the helm.
As boss of George Wimpey, the father- of-five was key to a merger with rival Taylor Woodrow in 2007 before taking over as leader of the newly formed Taylor Wimpey. He met his Taylor Woodrow counterpart, Ian Smith, at a cafe to thrash out the details.
His tenure got off to a rocky start as the financial crisis caused the British housing market to collapse. In die eerste 18 maande, the stock lost around 94pc of its value.
Redfern pulled it back from the brink by refinancing debts, selling its US business and issuing shares to raise cash.
Sedertdien, it has become one of the biggest players in the UK market, riding a wave of soaring demand that has pushed average house prices ever higher.
But despite a recovery from its all-time lows in November 2008, when the shares were changing hands for less than 3p, the stock price is still 27 per cent below where it was at the time of the merger, meaning many long-term investors are likely to be left feeling short-changed despite the group having paid out £2.8billion in dividends since its creation.
The company has also received a helping hand from the UK taxpayer through the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, watter, while designed to make homes more affordable, has been criticised for pushing up prices and funnelling millions into the pockets of developers.
UK house prices accelerated last year following a stamp duty holiday and interest rate cuts during the pandemic.
Taylor Wimpey raked in a record £287million in profits in the six months to July 4 compared to a £39.8million loss in the same period a year ago when the first lockdown forced it to close some sites.
Redfern’s long tenure as the chief executive has not been without controversy.
In 2016, Taylor Wimpey came under fire for selling houses and flats under leaseholds that contained clauses to allow ground rent to rise dramatically in later years, making the properties unsaleable by their owners.
The matter was subject to an investigation by UK competition regulators, who ordered the company to remove clauses in its leaseholds that doubled ground rent every 10 aan 15 jare, forcing the company to set aside £130million to amend the terms.
Later, in 2019, Taylor Wimpey apologised to several of its customers amid a growing number of complaints about the shoddy build quality of some of its newer houses, some of which led to costly repairs for homeowners.
Redfern’s pay package also came under scrutiny that year after he cashed in nearly £4million worth of shares comprising more than half of his stake and worth around three times his £852,000 annual salary.
Daarbenewens, the chief executive has bought four Taylor Wimpey properties in Spain and the UK, amassing a portfolio worth around £1.7million, using a staff discount that offers 5pc off the purchase of a property each year, saving a total of £80,000.
Redfern planned to expand his portfolio in 2019 with the purchase of a £2.5million luxury riverside apartment in London, also built by the company.
However he pulled out of the deal amid outrage over the discounted purchase price, which was cut by £436,000 and branded a ‘gratuitous bonus’ by executive pay campaigners.
Commenting on his departure, Tayor Wimpey chairman Irene Dorner focused on the positives, hailing Redfern’s ‘invaluable contribution to the business’ and successful navigation through two major crises – the financial crisis and pandemic.