In a trading update today, the stock exchange listed contractor said that revenues in April, after lockdown began, plummeted to just 20% of what had been expected.
Group revenues for the year were down approximately 4% compared to FY 2019 at approximately £85m, Van Elle said, but the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the final six weeks was such that the board expects to report an underlying pre-tax loss for the year.
However, customer activity levels are now beginning to increase. As of this week, approximately 30-40% of projects had resumed across the Housing and General Piling divisions, whilst the Specialist Piling, Rail and Geotechnical divisions are operating at approximately 60-70% of pre Covid-19 levels.
Van Elle has achieved preferred bidder status for its first contract on the High Speed 2 rail project and has recently been appointed to two of the three regions on Highways England’s new four-year ground investigation framework.
Chief executive Mark Cutler said: “It is encouraging to see a gradual return to work underway across our markets. We hope to see this trend continue in the coming weeks and are working with customers to support their plans. Thanks to the actions taken to preserve cash and the commitment of our employees, we are in a strong position to manage the return to activity.
“Having been able to retain our market leading capabilities and with a strengthened financial position, we are well-placed to benefit from significant opportunities as construction markets recover and new major infrastructure investment programmes commence.”
With Adrian Barden stepping down as non-executive chairman of Van Elle next month, a successor has been appointed in the shape of Frank Nelson, a former Galliford Try finance director. He is also a non-executive director of McCarthy & Stone, HICL Infrastructure and Eurocell, and previously of Telford Homes.