Setting up the business to deal with the pandemic

In managing our response to COVID-19, the primary focus has been on the health, safety and wellbeing of all employees, clients and the wider public, together with protecting the financial strength of the Group. In March, we implemented our business continuity plans to minimise the impact of the pandemic on our operations. We established a crisis management team and facilitated home working where possible. We undertook a detailed analysis to establish what aspects of our operations would be affected and what we could and could not continue to do. During this early period, we scaled back operations for several days in order to allow us to undertake this assessment more effectively. We implemented strict COVID-19 measures in our factories and sites including enhanced levels of cleaning, additional hygiene facilities and social distancing. Daily video calls between our executive and senior leadership teams, communications team, health and safety, human resources and legal advisers ensured that our decision-making was well-informed and timed appropriately. A weekly call with the plc board ensured that board members were kept fully updated throughout.

During the outbreak we have seen the value to the business of our culture, and our people really came to the fore to enable us to continue to carry on trading as normally as possible. A key aspect of our business continuity plan is to communicate effectively with our colleagues. We issued regular communications with updates on the latest government advice including how this impacted our employees, our COVID-19 HR and safety policies, how to cope with certain mental health issues arising from the crisis itself and general advice on working from home.

Precautionary financial measures

We have a strong balance sheet position, however, in order to mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 and protect our cash position during the current period of uncertainty in a manner that does not compromise our future plans for the Group, a number of precautionary actions have been implemented. These include the deferral of all non-essential and uncommitted capital expenditure, together with restrictions on discretionary operating expenditure, tight management of working capital and the deferral of tax payments (PAYE, NIC and VAT) and quarterly term loan repayments (due in March and June) until September 2020. Furthermore, prior to the year-end, we fully drew down all available amounts under our Revolving Credit Facility (£15m) to provide control over our own cash resources.

Outlook

When the immediate impact of COVID-19 has passed, the economy and our industry will enter a 'new normal' phase, but the timescale and duration for this is uncertain. At this early point in our financial year it is impossible to predict the full extent of the financial impact of COVID-19 on the 2021 outturn.

Notwithstanding this, to date we have coped well with the challenges presented by COVID-19. Our factories are operational and, after some temporary interruptions, all of the Group's construction sites in the UK and Europe remain open. We have a UK and Europe order book of £271m, we are seeing an encouraging level of tendering and pipeline activity across the Group and we remain well placed to win work in the diverse range of market sectors in which we operate and across a wide client base. This provides us with extra resilience and the ability to increase our market share. We have a strong balance sheet, a cash-generative business model and with bank facilities agreed until October 2023, we are confident that we have sufficient cash and committed funding in place during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.