Jeff Fairburn, Group Chief Executive
“We have improved the integration of our sustainability strategy across our business.”
I am pleased to introduce our 2016 Sustainability Report. Over the year to 31 December 2016 we built 15,171 homes, an increase of 599 on the previous year. We have continued to execute our long term strategic plan to create superior sustainable shareholder value into the future. The Group is focused on delivering high quality growth to meet customer demand by building well designed homes of quality in places where people wish to live and work.
We have improved the integration of our sustainability strategy across our business. In 2016, we particularly focused on further improvements to Customer Care and we continued to invest in our workforce. We now have around 550 trainees, graduates or apprentices working in the Group. I am very pleased to report that we have donated over £1m to local charities and good causes through our Community Champions initiative to date and we intend to increase our support in this area.
When people ask me about sustainability and why it’s important my answer is simple: it’s about doing the right thing for the business, whether that relates to our customers, employees, the communities in which we build or the environment. Thus, we have set a target to reduce the intensity of our carbon emissions by 10% over the next ten years. In doing this we aim to reduce our own direct environmental impact as well as controlling our energy costs.
We remain committed to playing a leading role in tackling the UK’s housing shortage. The solution to this challenge requires strategic thinking and concerted action from all stakeholders involved. The housebuilding sector and Government are clearly central to ensuring that this happens. To increase the supply of new homes the planning system will need to allow the release of more land for development by the industry. By increasing the number of new sales outlets and by investing in improving the availability of skilled tradespeople, the industry will be able to expand output with the intention of fulfilling the housing needs of all local communities across the UK. We are encouraged by the Government’s signalled intention to continue to improve the planning system as outlined in the recent Housing White Paper.
One of the many challenges we face is that of having a sufficient supply of skilled labour. We are continuing to invest in our workforce, ensuring that everyone has the training and development they need to perform to their maximum. The creation of the Home Building Skills Partnership, with its target of training over 40,000 people by 2019, is a very positive development and one that we support. The other strand of our approach relates to creating a culture that motivates and rewards our colleagues for their performance and allows them to share in our success.
Finally, after a very detailed analysis I am pleased to report that in 2016 we began construction of our brick factory for the manufacture of concrete bricks for use on our developments. Production is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2017. This will mean that we can source a majority of the bricks we require from our own resources. Not only will this secure our supply but the increasing use of concrete bricks will also have a direct impact on our environmental footprint by reducing carbon emissions within our supply chain. Combined with our Space4 modern method of construction capability, this demonstrates how doing the right thing for the business can deliver a range of wider benefits for the community.
Jeff Fairburn, Group Chief ExecutiveMarch 2017