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No dividends for Triton's employee-owners

29 Nov 23 With profits substantially down, there are no dividends this year for Triton Construction’s employee ownership trust.

Triton Construction chairman Mike Parkinson
Triton Construction chairman Mike Parkinson

In the year to 31st March 2023 turnover was flat at £62.1m (2022: £62.8m) and pre-tax profit was reduced to £119,000 (2022: £936,000).

With such slim profits, no equity dividends were paid.

However, after coming through “some of the worst trading conditions in many years”, according to the chairman, the Yorkshire-based business is now rebounding, unburdened by debt or borrowings.

Chairman Mike Parkinson wrote in the annual report, filed this week: “During the later part of the prior financial year and the first quarter of this year, we had a great deal of success in procuring a solid order book. Unfortunately this coincided with the start of the rapid changes in the economic climate, particularly in material prices.  The effects on the business have been severe, resulting in a significant erosion of profits. A half-year review led to a restructure in our northwest division and the replacement of several of the senior management team and regional director.”

The current year is looking more promising, however; margins are improving and Triton is even benefiting from what is usually regarded as a negative economic indicator for the construction industry, namely the downturn in the house-building sector.

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“The majority of our contracts undertaken are less than 12 months in duration, meaning that projects secured on  tighter rates are now largely completed. In the last quarter of the year we experienced a slow-down in material costs and, in some areas, reductions, the chairman wrote.

“We have continued to secure work at much better margins and significantly reduced risk. The house-building sector also appears to be slowing down, which is helping to free up much needed industry resources. This, combined with recent government policy to designate construction operatives as essential workers on the visa system, will all help with deliverability in the future.”

He added: “Our forward order book remains strong and diverse across s several sectors. We have extended our framework with Premier Inn for a further five years and look forward to the emergence of new schemes that have been largely dormant for the past two years. We are also pushing into new areas, such as de-carbonisation of major public buildings, electric charging stations, and alternative energy production facilities. The development of our knowledge and skills inn new areas is an exciting step which will put the business at the forefront  of these emerging and ever-expanding sectors.”

It is three years now since Triton Construction was sold to its employees. At that time, it was looking to grow turnover from around £40m to £100m by now, but that was before the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine and other market destabilisers.

However, Triton has avoided the fate of Britain’s biggest employee-owned construction company, Buckingham Group Contracting, which was sold to its employees in September 2021, made an £11m loss in its first year under the new regime, and went out of business this summer.

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