Construction News

Thu May 28 2020

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Closing gates: Morgan Sindall lets clients take the lead

25 Mar Construction contractors working through the Covid-19 pandemic risk social media attacks for ‘putting profit before people’; clients on the other hand seem to escape blame.

Morgan Sindall, however, appears to have adopted a strategy of letting clients take the lead on which sites need to stay open and which sites should close the gates until the crisis passes.

Several major house-builders are winning plaudits for sending site workers home – Barratt, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Galliard among them. But these companies are developers, in charge of their own sites, and so can make that decision. Not so many contractors feel able to make that call – ISG, Careys and Speller Metcalfe being rare exceptions so far.

In a trading update today, Morgan Sindall, Britain’s third biggest construction contractor behind Balfour Beatty and Kier, revealed that it was also sending site workers home and stopping work on some sites but is not claiming moral virtue from this.

Rather, it is making its clients take the difficult decisions.

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“Certain construction sites have already closed under instruction from the relevant clients and this is expected to increase across a number of divisions and activities,” the company said. “In addition, activity on other sites and projects is slowing and progress with some development schemes in the regeneration activities is becoming more uncertain.”

Morgan Sindall has joined the mass ranks of public companies cancelling shareholder dividends but reckons its finances are strong enough to weather the crisis. For the current year, average daily net cash from 1st January to 20th March was £132m. Net cash as at 20th March was £102m (including money owed to suppliers).

Chief executive John Morgan said: "These are clearly challenging times and we continue to take the appropriate action to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.  The group remains well funded, with good cash liquidity and an orderbook of c£7.6bn, underpinning our confidence in the group's long-term prospects."  

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