Pochin close to selling concrete pumping business

Aaron Morby 12 years ago

Cheshire-based Pochin is in advanced talks to sell its loss-making concrete pumping business.

The specialist concrete firm employs 118 staff and has struggled for several years, despite efforts to cut overheads and increase plant utilisation.

Pochin said the concrete pumping division was a cash drain on the group’s limited resources and was no longer regarded as being a core business in the future strategy of the group.

Turnover at the business fell to £8.8m from £9.1m last year, with operating losses down from £3m to £1.2m.

Richard Fildes, Pochin chairman said: “In recent months significant steps have been taken to ensure that the group is best placed to weather the economic storm which continues to gather.

“In particular, the settling of the main joint venture liabilities and the proposed sale of the concrete pumping business will each help to secure a sound future for the core activities.”

John Edwards, finance director, said the talks were close to heads of terms being issued with three bidders and he hoped to see one bidder enter exclusive negotiations by 7 October in the hope of completing the disposal by 30 November.

Also announcing results for the year end to May, Pochin managed to stem last year’s losses of £13.7m and returned a pre-tax profit of £0.7m.

Staff numbers were cut by 15% during the year to 262, as group turnover fell 10% to £59m.

Fildes said that turnover at the construction arm shrank by a third to £42m, as contracts came to an end and some previously secured contracts never started on site as customers either withdrew or delayed the start date.

At the property arm assets have been sold in order to continue to reduce debt and, at Ellesmere, sales to McCarthy & Stone, Shropshire County Council and Bloor Homes have become unconditional.

Planning permission for Midpoint 18 Phase 3 in Cheshire has been renewed and work continues on securing the Middlewich bypass to create development and investment opportunities for the future.

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