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Tue May 11 2021

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Covid pushed Keltbray into the red

6 days Privately-owned construction group Keltbray stumbled into losses last year as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic weighed on the business.

Brendan Kerr, Keltbray owner and executive chaiman
Brendan Kerr, Keltbray owner and executive chaiman

For the year ended 31st October 2020, Keltbray made a pre-tax loss of £9.4m (2019: £10.5m profit) on turnover down 24% from to £428.6m (2019: £563.4m).

The financial loss was blamed on the costs of Covid-19, the revenue impact of temporary site closures and delayed projects, and restructuring costs, predominantly within the built environment businesses.

Exceptional costs of £8.7m included payroll costs paid to employees on furlough totalling nearly £7.2m and redundancy costs of more than £1.5m.

Keltbray benefited from more than £6.3m furlough income under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

Turnover comprised £260.7m from built environment services and 168.0m  from infrastructure services.

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Group EBITDA of £3.3m was lifted by a good underlying performance across the infrastructure businesses, which were largely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic

The business ended the year with a closing positive cash position of £25.0m, £20.0m of secured, unused banking facilities, and a forward order book of  £224m.

Executive chairman Brendan Kerr, who owns the company, said: “As I reflect on the year, my overwhelming feeling is one of pride for the tremendous work that my executive team and all my colleagues across Keltbray have done to face the challenges head on, continue to deliver the essential services our customers and the wider UK demand, and protect the business for the future. Beyond any financial metrics, it truly has been a year of human accomplishment.”

Chief executive Darren James said: “These results cover a period of intensive challenge for Keltbray and the entire industry, none of whom have been immune from the effects.  Although we’ve had to handle lockdowns, fundamentally revise working practices, and take tough decisions to safeguard our business and the jobs it provides, I am pleased to report that as a result of our strategic diversification, Keltbray finished the year in a strong cash position and is making good progress in strategy execution.

“Our long-term aim is to become a more sustainably profitable specialist engineering business by investing in our talented workforce, innovative engineering technologies and core self-delivery capabilities. We will target opportunities in sectors that most benefit from the certainty of our innovative approach. This approach is reinforced in our new core purpose – To redefine the way sustainable development is delivered. This, along with our strong governance, bodes well for the future of Keltbray.”

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