- Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has announced its plans for a 'phased return' to site construction and operating, with remobilisation set to begin on 4 May, as it reported its order book continued to increase.

In a trading statement for the period covering 1 January to 23 April 2020, Taylor Wimpey reported that its own site management teams will use the week commencing 4 May to prepare sites for a new method of operating, with the first subcontractors returning on the week commencing 11 May.

It said the phased process will be based on detailed new site operating protocols developed in compliance with strict social distancing requirements, on the majority of sites in England and Wales.

Sales centres, show homes and regional offices will remain closed, it confirmed.

Taylor Wimpey reported that since the closure of its sites and sales offices, cancellations have represented only 0.8% of the total order book and new sales have exceeded the number of cancellations, meaning that it has grown its order book during shutdown by more than 200 units.

The company said its new digital reservation process meant that at the week ending 19 April 2020, the total value of its order book stood at approximately £2,677m, compared to £2,399m in week 16 of 2019.

It also announced it has taken the decision to utilise the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, but confirmed that all furloughed employees remain on their full base pay.

According to Taylor Wimpey, this represents 10,880 homes, compared to 10,291 homes in week 16 last year, excluding legal completions to date, of which well over half are exchanged, including affordable.

Chief executive Peter Redfern said that having closed its sites at the end of March, it is 'now confident that we have clear plans and processes in place so we can safely start back on site in a phased way beginning on 4 May'.

Redfern added: 'In the period while our sites have been closed, trading has inevitably been impacted. However, we are still seeing continued demand for our homes and our sales teams have been selling homes remotely, and digitally, week to week.'

Taylor Wimpey has fully drawn down its £550m revolving credit facility and as at 22 April, had cash balances of approximately £836m.

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