Covid costs Esh Group £6m

Esh Group has reported a £3.7m operating loss from continuing activities in 2020 as the pandemic cost the North of England contractor £6m.

The firm saw turnover for the full year increase to £223m following a major reorganisation and revised growth strategy.

But growth was offset by the pandemic which had a net effect on the Esh’s bottom line of over £6m – equivalent to a 2.6% loss of gross profit.

Chief executive, Andy Radcliffe, said: “We commenced the year with a record order book approaching £300m, a level of liquidity not seen in many years, and a business strategy that on all measures is performing well.

“The Group has recorded strong profitability through to the end of quarter three, and the board expect this to continue for the remainder of the year and beyond.”

The Covid-19 site shutdown period, cost of re-mobilising and overall reduction in productivity owing to periods of self-isolation saw gross profit margins fall to 2.4% from 4% the previous year.

Net cash generated through operating activities was £4.7m, due largely to a significant improvement in working capital management throughout the business and the privately-owned firm ended the year with £15.4m in liquid cash.

Radcliffe added: “The challenges faced from Covid-19 have inevitably impacted our results in 2020 and dampened our growth plans. However, to start this year with a record order book, being highly profitable in the year to date, and debt free, is a huge feat which has been achieved through a highly experienced leadership team and combined effort from all of our colleagues.

“We are re-positioned and re-focussed for success in a vibrant marketplace.

“As always, we are incredibly grateful to our clients, suppliers and wider stakeholders for their understanding and unwavering support. I am immensely proud of what we have all achieved over the past few years.”

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