Whilst building homes and creating communities is our business, at Redrow we are as much about people as we are about bricks and mortar. That's why Valuing People is one of our three strategic pillars and our people make us who we are. From the customers we serve to all of our colleagues and the suppliers, sub-contractors and service providers we partner with.
In every area of our business we place a high value on teamwork, cooperation, mutual respect and building relationships based on trust. This collaborative approach has enabled us to grow our business while providing the highest levels of service and quality of homes for our customers.
Its influence has also been seen in our rapid and effective response to the Coronavirus pandemic, with our people working together to swiftly put best-practice measures in place and ensure the ongoing safety of our customers and colleagues.
By cultivating a shared sense of purpose, we’ve also been able to evolve our product range and our brand, introduce new technology and develop exciting new Customer Experience Suites – an evolution of our sales centres designed to enhance the customer journey.
From considering the needs and aspirations of our customers, to the impact on our colleagues and sub-contractors, we’ve worked tirelessly in this period, introducing new initiatives and changing working practices to ensure our business adapts and thrives. Our ongoing investment in technology over the past decade has proved invaluable during the pandemic and ensured that we are well placed to support our customers and colleagues digitally via our online platforms.
The design of our homes is constantly evolving to meet the needs and aspirations of our customers. They are at the forefront of everything we do.
We have continued to adapt and improve our homes based on the very latest customer research into how people want to live. We’ve also focused on how their priorities have changed since the COVID pandemic and the impact of lockdowns.
Our product range, with its emphasis on larger homes and flexible living spaces, lends itself to families who are now spending more time at home. Our designs provide a balance of open plan living spaces and separate, more private spaces to accommodate all of a family’s needs. Our houses all have private gardens and the majority of apartments include a terrace or balcony so people have access to fresh air and outdoor space.
We’re incorporating designated home offices into many of our designs and now offer bespoke office furniture options through My Redrow. Our new homes also come with Fibre to the Premises broadband for ultrafast internet speeds, a must when several members of the family are at home and using several devices at once.
We’ve also begun work on an important new research project that will trial low-carbon heating technology combined with home automation systems, battery storage and solar technology. We will be comparing performance data and residents’ feedback from two homes, one using the new technology and the other which uses a gas boiler and has a traditional heating and hot water system. The two neighbouring homes will be occupied by families that are of a similar size and circumstance for 12 months.
Ensuring a smooth, productive and enjoyable customer journey is essential and is also a key part of our Building Responsibly pillar. We have also begun the process of updating our sales centres to enhance the customer journey even further.
The result is our new and exciting Customer Experience Suites. Bright and inviting, their new features include digital welcome screens that can carry personalised messages, digitally controlled content screens, interactive site plans showing availability and digital brochures and pricing. There’s also greater emphasis on Redrow’s sustainability credentials, with new interactive community signage.
So much more than a sales centre and designed to be an end-to-end hub (somewhere our customers will make use of from pre-reservation to post-moving in), the new Customer Experience Suites will begin to be rolled out across the business from March 2021.
Keeping our customers safe during COVID-19 has remained a top priority and we have continued to enable customers to book appointments via our online system for sales centre and show home visits. We also offer virtual appointments for customers who prefer this option or when lockdown rules have prohibited face to face meetings.
We’ve also invested in a new customer video messaging app, which is a fresh, innovative way to share personalised communications with our customers. It follows the successful introduction of our video Hard Hat tours, which allowed homebuyers to see inside their homes during construction. The new app can be used in lots of different ways, including to let customers know when the home they want becomes available or to let customers put a name to a face before a meeting, for example. Twenty-two developments are already live and participating in a trial ahead of a Group-wide roll-out.
For those who’ve already moved in we’ve recently extended our online members area, My Redrow, to include Homeowner Support, providing a series of useful ‘how to’ videos, features, help and advice to customers on maintaining their home. This includes an interactive self-help area to review warranty standards guidance and report any post-completion warranty issues online.
We’ve also produced a new Sustainable Living Guide for our customers, which contains valuable information on how they can use their new Redrow home more efficiently and benefit from inherent design features which contribute to their wellbeing. This will be made available to all new customers.
Our employees’ skills, knowledge and experience are one of our biggest assets. For us, the exceptional value our colleagues bring to the business is our return for our investment in their human capital.
Never has this been more important than during recent months when they have risen to all of the challenges presented by COVID-19. The hard work, dedication and flexibility of colleagues to adapt to new working practices, including frequent home working, and adopting new digital technology, has been central to Redrow’s strong performance during this period.
Mindful that many of our colleagues are frequently working alone and from home, our weekly digital newsletter regularly reminds them of the extra resources available to help them and also provides tips on how to look after their own mental health and wellbeing. We’ve also run webinars to provide both financial and wellbeing expertise and nearly 600 people took up our offer of free flu jabs at the start of winter.
Our Engagement groups have continued to operate in every division, allowing colleagues to generate ideas and have valuable input into activities in their area. We coordinated a special Colleague Week to celebrate our teams and give something back. We used this period to extend and enhance the employee benefits we offer, including several measures designed to have a positive impact on family life, e.g. enhanced maternity and paternity pay, making extra holidays available and flexible working. A new monthly employee recognition scheme in each division brings with it a financial reward and, recognising the loyalty of our colleagues, we are now celebrating long-service much earlier with rewards for five years’ service, as well as for ten years and longer milestones.
Despite COVID-19, Redrow has maintained its commitment both to new entrants and to supporting and nurturing existing colleagues. All succession activities have continued, with personal development programmes and coaching moved to remote provision so that colleagues can continue with their chosen career paths.
Our different leadership programmes have continued to help talented individuals progress within the business, with notable examples including Claire Jarvis promoted to Managing Director of our Lancashire division; and Rose Sandell taking responsibility for Partnerships and Affordable Housing, Sustainability and Master Planning, under the umbrella of Group Communities Director.
Elsewhere within the business there have been numerous upward moves including Shane Levy becoming Head of Commercial in South East and Robbie Shuttle moving from Senior QS to Shane’s previous Commercial Manager role. Both have been part of our Enhance leadership programme for middle managers. Noah Overton, once a graduate trainee, has advanced his career through Aspire and Enhance to become a Senior Land Manager.
Graduates and under-graduates have been to the fore this year too. We recruited 19 young people, many of them school leavers, for our Construction Management in Housebuilding sponsored degree programme, as planned. Run in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University and Coleg Cambria, this ‘earn while you learn’ route is a very safe alternative to traditional academic study and allows individuals to earn a BSc degree in Construction Management without incurring huge student debt.
Then, recognising the particularly tough time those graduating in 2020 were facing because of the pandemic, we took a decision to recruit 32 new graduates to a wide range of roles. The new recruits have now joined various departments across all our divisions, with roles including IT, HR, Sustainability, Commercial, Land, Construction and Technical.
New starter inductions, as well as ongoing learning and development, have moved largely on line, utilising Zoom technology and other digital tools. The ability to deliver our ‘This is Redrow’ induction digitally means people can get this valuable insight into the business and its culture as soon as they join the company instead of waiting for the next in-situ course.
We’ve worked closely with Group Construction Manager Zara Barrow and divisional Construction Directors to streamline our construction induction training for new Site Managers. A combination of Zoom training sessions, e-learning and working with one of our experienced site managers during week one means they are brought rapidly up to speed with Redrow’s bespoke Health & Safety policies and procedures, IT systems and software programmes; so are fully ready to take on their own sites in week two.
We continue to employ and train apprentices in a variety of trade, commercial and administrative roles and have been collaborating with NHBC on a national pilot to fast-track trade apprentices and develop an on-site centre of excellence. Further announcements will be made this spring.
Redrow is committed to creating Thriving Communities, places where people can thrive, with open spaces for residents to enjoy and amenities that encourage neighbours to come together. The benefits of this commitment have been highlighted further by COVID-19.
We have developed an online process for the review of all masterplans and layouts, which has proved to be a very effective and efficient way of ensuring all emerging design concepts meet our eight key placemaking principles set out in Redrow 8.
In collaboration with stakeholders and experts, facilitated by the Design Commission for Wales, we have developed a placemaking manual specifically for Wales; one which reflects key priorities in the national planning policy, e.g. children and families, play, active travel (walking and cycling), health and wellbeing, and sustainable drainage.
We’ve also produced a comprehensive Landscape Manual for all our developments, detailing a clear set of principles to deliver beautiful streets and places as well as contributing to meeting our biodiversity commitments. This sets out clear guidelines for over 20 spatial typologies ranging from new parks and drainage features to individual private gardens. The Wildlife Trusts have provided input to help us fulfil the commitments we have made in our nature strategy.
Following the launch of our new Nature for People strategy last July, we are continuing our partnership with The Wildlife Trusts to implement the 15 commitments we have made. These are collectively designed to retain and enhance wildlife, encourage community participation and ensure long-term, effective management of our developments.
Biodiversity Net Gain pilot projects are underway to better understand the impact of this approach, to familiarise our teams with the process and tools involved, establish links with local Wildlife Trusts and examine what different levels of gain will mean for our design process.
Our Biodiversity Working Group is updating the land appraisal process, with the aim of flagging sensitive sites and seeking local advice from the Wildlife Trusts at an early stage. This will allow us to fully assess the potential for net gain, identify opportunities and assess risks.
Redrow’s commitment to building responsibly remains as strong as ever and we were delighted in September to win a silver award for Company of the Year at the Global Good Awards, presented annually for social and environmental sustainability.
Since then we have made advancements in a number of key areas that will add further weight to our environmental credentials and achievements.
We have disclosed to the CDP Forests Programme for the first time in order to maintain transparency in our reporting in this area and to continue to develop as industry leader in this field. We scored a ‘C’ in our first year of disclosure, which is in line with the global average, and are working on exceeding this score next year.
We have been researching the alternate use of Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel to reduce diesel usage on our sites. Diesel currently accounts for over half of our operational carbon emissions and impacts local air quality. We are due to begin trials shortly. We are also trialling a hybrid generator with solar PV and a smart energy management system, which can result in fuel savings of between 33% and 50%, while reducing emissions and bringing the added bonus of noise reduction due to the generator needing to operate for less time.
We have been undertaking a ‘Reduce the Rubble’ waste monitoring project at three locations in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the South East, to weigh and cost the amount of waste generated in building a typical Redrow home. Our assistant site managers have worked alongside Reconomy Waste Management Services to analyse and collect accurate data and the results will be used to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and to work with the supply chain to reduce packaging.
As a ‘by-product’ of this project, unused wood from our sites has been repurposed as part of the national Community Wood Recycling Scheme. In Leeds, for example, after being de-nailed and made good, 60% of timber has been redirected to a reclaimed timber shop and 30% has been used for free community woodwork training.
We have also held four Waste and Resource Efficiency workshops for divisional colleagues, in partnership with the Supply Chain Sustainability School. These workshops have looked at resource efficiency and the circular economy, including practical measures to reduce waste and the financial benefits that can be achieved.
Our commitment to sign up all of our developments to the Considerate Constructors Scheme, which promotes and achieves best practice for site appearance, protecting the environment, safety and respect for both the community and workforce, remains strong. By the end of the half year 98% of our sites were registered and our monitoring scores continue to improve as we work to maximise our score.
We finished the half year with an average NHBC Construction Quality Review ('CQR') score of 82% from 60 CQR site inspections across 12 divisions. Our monthly and year to date positions throughout this period have remained consistently greater than our 75% benchmark target score. CQRs in January 2021 averaged 92%, bringing the year to date average up to 82%.
Valuing the people who build our homes goes far beyond our direct employees. We also have a large body of loyal sub-contractors who are part of the Redrow family and long-standing relationships with our supply chain, which has undoubtedly helped mitigate risk of labour or materials shortages in the current climate.
We have been working closely with our suppliers to ensure that stock levels are maintained and to monitor any potential supply risks and source alternatives where necessary. Special safety measures, social distancing, site signage and extra cleaning introduced during the first lockdown, have continued to be assessed, reviewed and refined throughout the period to ensure the health, safety and well-being of every person working on our sites.
A dedicated COVID-19 supervisor is employed on every site and every sub-contractor undergoes a special COVID induction. We continue to apply strict COVID-safe working practices at all times, with the opportunity for colleagues and co-workers to report any concerns in confidence.