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Sat September 25 2021

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Investment for growth softens Keltbray's margins

30 Apr 18 Keltbray Group has reported a firm rise in turnover but a dip in profitability for the past year.

Keltbray employee numbers have risen to 1500
Keltbray employee numbers have risen to 1500

For the year ending 31st October 2017, Keltbray increased turnover by 13% from £369.4m to £417.5m but profit before tax was down a shade from £23.6m to £23.3m.

Operating profit of £23.8m (2016: £24.4m) meant that the operating margin dipped from 6.6% to 5.6%. This was attributed to tighter trading conditions and investment in the business in preparation for further growth, which increased overhead costs.

Keltbray is a specialist contractor operating in an increasingly diverse array of specialisms, including demolition, decommissioning, remediation, rail, environmental services, plant, haulage, piling and reinforced concrete structures. It now directly employs around 1,500 people across three business streams:

Keltbray’s Specialist Contracting Services (SCS) division, active in demolition, engineering design, reinforced concrete structures, piling, asbestos management, remediation, waste and soil treatment and supply of plant and haulage services, grew turnover 15% from £269.4m to £311.0m.

The rail business stream increased turnover by 6% from £100.0m to £106.5m.

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Chief executive Brendan Kerr said: “We are pleased with these results, which saw us increase turnover, generally maintain profit levels and improve our cash position against a backdrop of an increasingly uncertain economic climate, particularly in London and the southeast, where lack of clarity on Brexit remains a dampener on growth.

“While we expect the demand for our demolition and civil engineering services to slow down this year, we estimate this reduction to be partially offset by Keltbray Structures, which ended the year with a pipeline of more than £120m worth of work.”

As previously reported, Keltbray has set up a joint venture in Canada to export its rail skills.

Brendan Kerr said: “The change in the nature of project spend under Control Period 6 announced by Network Rail has led us to review other markets to diversify our client base for overhead line electrification opportunities. As previously announced we are working with Aecon to assist them in the delivery of major overhead line electrification projects in Canada. We remain committed to the UK rail market and the opportunities in Canada will assist us build a more sustainable rail business for the future.”

He concluded: “We remain committed to our specialist contractor roots and the continuing investment in our self-delivery model which means we employ, manage and train our own employees using our own specialist plant and equipment, but have developed a mitigation strategy to meet the challenging times ahead. This will see the group continuing to diversify into specialist services that are aligned to our existing portfolio, and strengthen our position in other construction-related sectors, such as residential, infrastructure, industrial and utilities.”

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