Former Persimmon CEO Jeff Fairburn takes on top role at Yorkshire house builder Berkeley DeVeer

Jeff Fairbun Picture: JPI Media
Jeff Fairbun Picture: JPI Media
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JEFF Fairburn, the former chief executive of Persimmon, has taken on the top role at a Yorkshire house builder.

Mr Fairburn, 53, has been appointed chief executive of Berkeley DeVeer after buying a 50 per cent stake in the business.

During his tenure, Mr Fairburn made Persimmon Yorkshire’s largest PLC. However, he left the York-based firm in late 2018 in a row over his pay.

Daniel Newett, managing director of Berkeley DeVeer, said: “We are delighted to announce Jeff’s appointment as CEO, who with over 30 years’ experience in the house building sector and chief executive for one of the UK’s leading house builders, is the ideal candidate for the role.

"Jeff will bring invaluable knowledge to the executive leadership team and put Berkeley DeVeer in a position to become a leading house builder in Yorkshire”.

Mr Fairburn, the CEO of Berkeley DeVeer, added: “Berkeley DeVeer is a fantastic house builder and I’m honoured to join the company as CEO, and to have become a significant investor.

"I’m looking forward to working closely with the executive leadership team to fulfil their ongoing commitment of being a first class, quality house builder.

"My aim is to grow the business and further deliver on the strong performance seen to date. The company’s record of operational excellence and reputation as a leading local house builder remains our core priority”.

Wetherby-based Berkeley DeVeer is family-owned business which aims to operate like a large house builder, while offering customers the service usually associated with much smaller developers.

The company appeared in the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 for 2019, which is the comprehensive list of the region’s fastest-growing companies.

Organised by leading commercial law firm Ward Hadaway and backed by The Yorkshire Post, the list highlights and celebrates the achievements of the profitable, privately-owned companies in the region which have grown their turnover by the largest amount in recent years.

Mr Fairburn agreed to quit Persimmon in 2018 because of the “distraction” over his controversial £75m pay-packet, which he said was hurting his and the company’s reputation.

The bumper bonus sparked outcry among politicians and shareholders, and was rejected by 48.5 per cent of Persimmon investors as they vented their anger over the deal.

Following the furore, Mr Fairburn said in 2019 that he would donate a “substantial portion” of the bonus to charity and set up a private trust.

Mr Fairburn said he would leave Persimmon by “mutual agreement” and at the firm’s request.

Mr Fairburn started in the construction industry as a 17-year-old apprentice quantity surveyor.

He described his career path in an interview with The Yorkshire Post in 2012.

"I come from a line of practical people, " said Mr Fairburn, whose father was a motor mechanic.

"I decided university was not for me; I was keen to get a job. In those times and still now, schools were very keen for people to go to university without addressing what the practical alternatives are.

"I wanted to do something practical. My uncle was a quantity surveyor and I felt it was a good career opportunity."

On leaving school he joined a youth training scheme as a quantity surveyor in his home city of York.

For two years Mr Fairburn split his time between mixing concrete, unloading wagons and knocking holes in walls, and training for a higher national certificate at York Technical College.

Life on the building site taught him "how to deal with people prior to moving into the office".

"It teaches you the value of people you’re working with and you understand what motivates people, " he said.

Speaking in 2012, he said: "We’ve got quite a few directors who have come through the practical approach and apprenticeships - we still encourage it now."