Vistry Partnerships has demobilised more than 100 affordable housing construction sites across the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The partnerships and regeneration business is now working to support its sub-contractors and supply chain so that they stand ready to restart work when the time comes, its chief executive said.
Stephen Teagle, chief executive of Vistry Partnerships – formerly Galliford Try Partnerships – told Social Housing that while the wider group has been meeting all the requirements set out by Public Health England, with up to 900 people on a single site in London, a major concern is their travel to and from work.
Vistry, which has a series of joint ventures with major housing associations across the country, has 105 sites across from Newcastle to Penzance.
He said sites have been decommissioned in a way that they can be started again at speed.
The group has a combination of contracting and mixed-tenure developments, the latter of which are 95 per cent for housing associations.
Vistry also has a partnership with Homes England, the government’s housing delivery agency. Mr Teagle welcomed the “flexibility” of its response to the crisis.
In the cases of joint ventures, Mr Teagle said he would expect cost to be shared. He said that now is not the time for “people to go down adversarial routes”.
“This is a moment where the industry and the sector absolutely needs to be responding in partnership.”
Vistry Partnerships is offering support to its sub-contractors with their cash positions where possible, said the CEO.
Mr Teagle said the crucial elements for the supply chain are cash and visibility of the forward workload, and warned that “any prolonged delay will result in the already fragmented supply chain becoming more fragmented and dissipated”.
“It’s really important that as soon as it is possible for us to restart, we are talking to the supply chain,” he added.
Mr Teagle also called on the UK government to help provide that “forward visibility” and to be ready with a stimulus to help the sector “accelerate housing supply with confidence”.
In an update to the financial markets yesterday, the wider Vistry Group – formed through Bovis Homes’ takeover of Galliford Try’s housing businesses – said it will submit valuations of around £95m for work completed in March to its local authority and housing association contracting clients, while “noting that the government has issued guidance for payment”.
Meanwhile, it has postponed its second interim dividend payment of 41 pence per ordinary share, totalling around £60m and which was due on 29 May, and suspended financial guidance, given the “rapidly evolving situation and the dynamic UK government response to COVID-19”.
The group has committed banking facilities totalling £750m, including £100m of private placement notes. It had £435m of net debt at 24 March 2020, and cash of £90m.