THE new boss of York house-builder Persimmon has said the firm is changing after the number of properties being sold slowed down in the wake of efforts to improve quality.

The number of new homes sold fell to 7,584 in the first six months of this year, compared with 8,072 in the same period last year.

The company has also posted a dip in profits to £509.3 million before tax for the first six months of this year, down from £516.3 million last year.

Persimmon faced a backlash last year after giving a £75 million bonus to former boss Jeff Fairburn, and some buyers have strongly criticised the quality of workmanship in their new homes.

But new chief executive Dave Jenkinson said today: "Improving the quality and service delivered to our customers remains our top priority and I am encouraged with the progress made in the first half, which clearly shows that Persimmon is changing."

He said customer satisfaction ratings for the current survey year were showing improvement and he was particularly pleased that Persimmon had become the first housebuilder to introduce a retention scheme for customers, placing at at the forefront of strengthened consumer rights for homebuyers.

"Our decision to invest an additional c. £140 million in work in progress as we held back some sites for later sales release to give customers more accurate moving-in dates reduced the group’s overall sales volumes.

"Allowing for these impacts, Persimmon’s trading in the first half of 2019 was strong.

“I am proud of the commitment and dedication our teams have shown in supporting the many initiatives we have introduced to deliver a step change in our customers’ experience.

“I am confident that the progress we are making with our initiatives, our strong forward build, healthy forward sales and robust balance sheet place Persimmon in a strong position for the second half.”

Mr Jenkinson said more than half of private sales - 3,082- were to first-time buyers and the firm delivered 1,621 new homes for lower income families to housing association partners.

One of the major house-building schemes Persimmon is currently working on is the 650-home Germany Beck development, just a short distance away from its headquarters in Fulford.