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Thu April 25 2024

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Billington battles headwinds in return to growth

26 Apr 22 Structural steel specialist Billington Holdings saw its sales rebound in 2021 but the bottom line was ruined by the collapse of the client.

Sandwell Aquatics Centre was one of Billington's biggest jobs of the year
Sandwell Aquatics Centre was one of Billington's biggest jobs of the year

Billington’s revenues rose 25% to £82.7m in 2021, roughly midway between 2019’s record £105m and 2020’s Covid impaired £66m.

However, while business returned, profits did not. Underlying Ebitda were £3.3m, down from £3.6m in 2020; pre-tax profit was £1.3m, down from £1.7m.  

As previously reported, the 2021 results include an impairment charge of £1.1m relating to a client (Midas?) that entered administration shortly after the year end.  Billington has taken the decision to provide for the debt owed while continuing to seek recovery of the money.

Chief executive Mark Smith said that the dominant theme of the year had been the increase in steel prices across Europe, driven by increased energy costs.

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“In 2021 these price increases were in the order of 60%, on top of the c.40% increases seen in 2020,” he said. “We anticipated a more stable supply picture in 2022, with previous supply constraints removed and Billington benefiting from its scale in the market and trading relationships with its primary supply chain.  The onset of the conflict in Ukraine has noted a restriction in some raw materials used in the steel making process of some steel products and further price rises have been encountered as a result.”

Projects undertaken by Billington Structures during 2021 included:

  • Newhurst energy from waste plant in Leicestershire for Hitachi Zosen Inova
  • Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Smethwick for Wates Construction
  • Pinewood Studios in Slough for Sir Robert McAlpine.

Mark Smith summarised: "2021 was a year of partial recovery for our markets as the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic abated.  However, the group continued to face challenges from the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, raw material price increases, together with supply constraints for certain materials and labour.  Despite these challenges we operated our facilities at full utilisation and remained profitable as a company.

"Whilst the market remains competitive, and market conditions and the macroeconomic environment remain challenging, Billington's order book continues at a consistently high level, comprising both delayed and new projects, and the group has good visibility of significant further prospects.  I anticipate an improvement in the group's financial performance in 2022 and I am confident about the future prospects for the group."

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