"Our achievements are due to the commitment and energy of all of our employees at all levels and of our wider workforce and I pay tribute to the enormous contribution they make.”
It gives me great pleasure to introduce our 2018 annual Sustainability Report. Our business continues to deliver a high level of performance and our results for 2018 reflect our successful focus on offering attractively priced new homes. We sold 16,449 homes in 2018, 406 more than the prior year. We focus on sales to first time buyers and first time movers, where housing need is greatest. In 2018 51% of our private sales were to first time buyers and 39% at prices below £200,000. We have grown construction volumes by more than 75% since 2012, making a significant contribution to UK housing supply.
While we take pride in these achievements, they tell only part of the wider story of how we are delivering sustainable value to our customers, our workforce, our suppliers, the communities in which we build and our shareholders.
Our achievements are due to the commitment and energy of all of our employees at all levels and of our wider workforce and I pay tribute to the enormous contribution they make. We look to identify, develop and reward talent and offer a wide range of career opportunities. It is particularly pleasing to watch the progress of younger colleagues as they assume more responsibility and further their careers with us. We have recently invested in our Human Resources function, increasing the team by c. 40%, particularly in training to enhance the level of support and guidance provided to our employees.
This investment will allow us to extend both the scope and scale of personal and professional development opportunities to colleagues across the business. We are taking action to address the shortage of skills in the industry, with almost 15% of our workforce in structured training programmes across the business.
We continue to nurture and develop our best talent and I am delighted that over 570 colleagues were promoted during the last two years recognising their success in developing their careers with Persimmon. The Group is proud to support over 20,000* construction jobs and over 30,000* jobs in our supply chain.
Improving customer satisfaction levels is a key priority for us. A wide range of projects to improve customer satisfaction commenced in late 2018 including increasing our investment in customer care resources, improving customer communication, reinforcing quality assurance and improving our post-handover service. In addition, as part of our drive to improve our service to customers, we have taken action to deliver greater accuracy of anticipated moving in dates. The initial results have been encouraging, giving us confidence in our ability to make progress in this important area.
A key area of differentiation for the Group is through our commitment to innovation. We have been at the forefront in utilising the benefits of off-site manufacturing and modern methods of construction. Our previous Sustainability Reports have described the investment we have made in building our own Brickworks, which is entirely focused on supplying the Group’s house building operations. I’m delighted that it is now up and running. We anticipate Brickworks will deliver c.65m bricks to the Group in 2019. The concrete bricks it produces are a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional natural gas fired clay bricks. Additionally, the construction of our own roof tile manufacturing plant is progressing to plan and we expect deliveries from Tileworks to commence in the second half of this year.
Combining the skills and knowledge of our colleagues with technology and innovation allows us to build the sustainable communities that are attractive to our customers. As the case study about Newcastle Great Park later in this report explains, we focus on ensuring that our developments are fully integrated with the local area and provide the social, commercial and transport infrastructure necessary for them to thrive.
Finally, following the success of our Healthy Communities initiative, which has provided £600,000 to a wide range of sports clubs and individuals across the UK over the last year, we have decided to launch a new initiative, Building Futures. This will deliver £1 million to support groups providing sporting, health, and arts and education opportunities for children in the communities in which we are working. We are delighted to be joining forces with Team GB – the British Olympic Association – to help children throughout the UK. As an official Partner of Team GB we are proud to be supporting them in the run up to, and beyond, the next Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Dave Jenkinson, Group Chief ExecutiveMarch 2019
* Estimated using an economic toolkit.