Severfield warns clients are delaying investment plans

Aaron Morby 1 year ago
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The country’s biggest construction steelwork contractor Severfield has warned that some clients are delaying project investment decisions in the face of uncertainty over the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Severfield chief Alan Dunsmore says firm is well positioned to meet challenges of year ahead
Severfield chief Alan Dunsmore says firm is well positioned to meet challenges of year ahead

Despite these concerns, the specialist contractor said it was encouraged by the current level of tendering and pipeline activity, particularly in the industrial and distribution and data centre sectors.

Severfield also said it was hopeful of major orders for HS2 moving ahead.

Announcing improved results for the year to March, chief executive Alan Dunsmore said: “In 2020, we have increased our profitability, both in the UK and in India, and have exceeded our 2020 strategic profit target of £26m.”

Revenue was up 19% to £327m helped by the £25m acquisition of nuclear industry steelwork specialist Harry Peers nine months ago.

Underlying pre-tax profit rose 16% to £29m, while softer market conditions in the run up to the election last year saw operating margins slightly down at 8.2%.

June order levels were down £53m at £271m from November’s half-year record.

Around 54% of orders are for the UK with the balance being made up by Europe.

Significant orders include a large industrial facility and a large data centre, both in the Republic of Ireland, a large data centre in Finland, a large distribution facility in the UK, the new stadium works at Fulham FC and the redevelopment of Lord’s Cricket Ground (Compton and Edrich stands).

Orders for offices include remaining works for the Google Headquarters at King’s Cross, together with a number of mid-sized office developments, both in London and the UK regions.

Dunsmore said: “We are now seeing evidence of investment decisions being delayed in some of our sectors as clients and developers appear to be adopting a more cautious approach until greater market clarity returns.

“Pricing generally remains competitive. Despite this, we remain well-placed to win work in the diverse range of market sectors and geographies in which we operate and across a wide client base, providing us with extra resilience and the ability to increase our market share.

“The overall impact of COVID-19 remains uncertain. Whilst all of our factories are operational and all of our construction sites in the UK and Europe remain open, it is inevitable that the virus will have an impact on profitability in 2021.”

Severfield deferred its dividend payment until there is better visibility on the impact of Covid-19.

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