Barratt Developments PLC to use marshals to enforce self-distancing as

Around 180 sites will be opened in the first phase, the FTSE 250-listed company said

PLC () has said it will use marshals to ensure self-distancing and safe working on its building sites as they start to re-open after coronavirus pandemic lockdown closures.

The housebuilder intends to begin re-opening sites from May 11 through a phased return to full construction.

David Thomas, Barratt’s chief executive said the builder has established a new set of working protocols to meet current guidelines including changes to signage, site welfare facilities and compounds, site access and walkways.

“We have already successfully implemented these measures on one of our sites as a pilot,” he said in a statement. “A nominated Social Distancing Marshal will be present on all sites to ensure policy compliance and we will provide induction, training and support for our employees and sub-contractors.”

Around 180 sites will be opened in the first phase, the FTSE 250-listed company said, which is around half of its total number. Scottish sites will remain shut alongside all Barratt’s sales offices with customers still being handled remotely.

Barratt shut down operations on March 27 and said it has seen new orders fall to a low level, which it expects to continue until the sales centres and show homes re-open.

Sales or completions will be limited in this financial year to June, it added, as it will focus on houses where the process is already advanced.

So far this year, Barratt has completed 11,776 homes (2019:11,723) and currently has an order book of 12,271 homes worth £2.85bn.

The housebuilder noted that it has cash of £430mln and £900mln of credit facilities while it has been accepted into the UK government’s coronavirus loan support scheme.

Several of Barratt’s peers have already announced a return to work including , Vistry and .

Emilie Stevens, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, noted that Barratt is one of the last of the major housebuilders to signpost it is re-opening.

“It’s an important step but it’s too early for a fanfare,” she said. 

” We know life without a shopfront is hurting Barratt‘s new sales, with reservations low throughout lockdown, and with construction efforts prioritising homes already started any additional new completions are unlikely.

“Unlike some of its peers, who said prices had generally remained firm, we didn’t hear anything about price from Barratt.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it makes judging the recovery difficult. We’ll need more clarity on prices and the demand for houses as the UK eases lockdown before we can plot a course forward. ”

Peel Hunt added the Barratt share price is down 30% year-to-date versus minus 24% for the sector.

Shares rose 1.4p to 520.4p.


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