After almost 15 years of being at the helm, Taylor Wimpey is leaving.

Pete Redfern, who negotiated the creation of the UK’s third-largest housebuilder in a cafe on the M40, is off once a replacement has been found and a full handover has taken place.

He’s the largest-serving chief executive of large listed housebuilders and one of a few in the FTSE 100 who has held that position for over a decade.

Stepping down: Taylor Wimpey's Pete Redfern (pictured) is the longest-serving chief exec of the big housebuilders, and among a minority in the FTSE to have held the job for over a decade

Moving on: Taylor Wimpey’s Pete Redfern, (pictured), is the longest-serving chief executive of big housebuilders and one in a few FTSE members to hold the position for more than a decade.

Recruitment of his replacement is already ‘advanced’, and internal and external candidates are being considered.

Rumours circulated that Elliott, activist investor who was reported at weekend to have bought a stake, could be behind the exit. This led to speculation regarding management reform.

Redfern, 51, said: ‘It has been a privilege to work at Taylor Wimpey for the last two decades and to lead a business of which I am so proud. It is in excellent health and well-positioned for strong future growth.’

The shares rose 0.9 per cent, or 1.5p, to 169.3p, and analyst Laura Hoy at Hargreaves Lansdown said it ‘feels like the right time for a shift in leadership’.

Taylor Wimpey won’t have Redfern at its helm for the first time ever in the company’s history.

George Wimpey was the boss and father of five. He helped to merge with Taylor Woodrow’s rival in 2007, before becoming the leader of Taylor Wimpey. Ian Smith was his Taylor Woodrow counterpart. They met at a café to discuss details.

As the British housing market collapsed due to the financial crisis, his tenure began with a bumpy start. The stock suffered a loss of around 94pc in the first 18 months.

Redfern saved the company from financial ruin by refinancing its debts and selling its US operations. Redfern also issued shares in order to increase cash. 

It has grown to be one of the largest players on the UK housing market. This is due to soaring demand, which has driven average home prices higher.

But despite a recovery from its all-time lows in November 2008, when the shares were changing hands for less than 3p, the stock price is still 27 per cent below where it was at the time of the merger, meaning many long-term investors are likely to be left feeling short-changed despite the group having paid out £2.8billion in dividends since its creation.

The company has also received a helping hand from the UK taxpayer through the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which, while designed to make homes more affordable, has been criticised for pushing up prices and funnelling millions into the pockets of developers.

After the pandemic, a holiday in stamp duty and reductions in interest rates during last year saw UK property prices rise. 

Taylor Wimpey raked in a record £287million in profits in the six months to July 4 compared to a £39.8million loss in the same period a year ago when the first lockdown forced it to close some sites.

Redfern’s long tenure as the chief executive has not been without controversy.

Taylor Wimpey faced criticism in 2016 for selling homes and flats on leaseholds. These clauses allowed the ground rent to go up dramatically, rendering them unreachable to their owners.

The matter was subject to an investigation by UK competition regulators, who ordered the company to remove clauses in its leaseholds that doubled ground rent every 10 to 15 years, forcing the company to set aside £130million to amend the terms. 

Taylor Wimpey later apologized to several of their customers in 2019 after receiving growing complaints about its poor quality build quality.

Redfern’s pay package also came under scrutiny that year after he cashed in nearly £4million worth of shares comprising more than half of his stake and worth around three times his £852,000 annual salary.

Additionally, the chief executive has bought four Taylor Wimpey properties in Spain and the UK, amassing a portfolio worth around £1.7million, using a staff discount that offers 5pc off the purchase of a property each year, saving a total of £80,000.

Redfern planned to expand his portfolio in 2019 with the purchase of a £2.5million luxury riverside apartment in London, also built by the company.

However he pulled out of the deal amid outrage over the discounted purchase price, which was cut by £436,000 and branded a ‘gratuitous bonus’ by executive pay campaigners.

Commenting on his departure, Tayor Wimpey chairman Irene Dorner focused on the positives, hailing Redfern’s ‘invaluable contribution to the business’ and successful navigation through two major crises – the financial crisis and pandemic.

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