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Miller Group posts £72.4m loss

17 Mar 10 Miller Group has posted a £72.4m pre-tax loss for the year ending 31 December 2009.

Miller Group has posted a £72.4m pre-tax loss for the year ending 31 December 2009.

However, it is an improvement on 2008’s £170m loss.

The loss includes £27.5m of exceptional items, mostly relating to commercial properties in Eastern and Central Europe, where tenants are increasingly seeking rent concessions, the group said.

Miller’s turnover also fell, by 25% to £783m, compared to £1bn in the previous year.

Cash flow from operations was healthy at £130m, allowing £100m of debt to be repaid nine months early.

The Edinburgh-based firm is the UK’s largest privately owned housebuilder and contractor.

Miller's construction business reported an operating profit of £15.5m (2008: £13.7m), despite turnover dropping 34% to £409m in “very challenging market conditions”.

The firm said “this was down to procuring projects on the right commercial terms and driving contracts ahead of programme”. This delivered an operating profit margin of 3.8%.

The construction division's mix of work is 80% private, with the remainder in the public sector. Its average contract size was £18m.

Miller’s house-building business sold just 12 more homes in 2009, totalling 2,068, compared to the previous year.

However, it said activity levels in housing were “encouraging” with forward sales of 1,010 units, 13% ahead of 2009.

The firm said it had worked closely with the Homes and Communities Agency throughout the year and is a “major participant” in the HCA’s HomeBuy Direct and Kickstart programmes.

Chief executive Keith Miller said he remained optimistic and that 33 of the group’s sites are currently progressing through planning, with 1,000 plots set to be acquired in 2010/2011.

He added: “Our commercial property portfolio is in good shape, making a positive return over both direct operational and finance costs.

“We have recommenced activity on our major strategic landholdings in Islington, Birmingham, Warrington and Edinburgh.

“Though we are aware of current weaknesses in mortgage supply and the drag on demand that further increases in unemployment could bring, we have already secured 50% of our housing targets for the year.

“Construction is further behind the recovery curve with more challenging market conditions. However we have good visibility of work for 2010, a strong client base and the majority of our order book with the public sector.”

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