Willmott Dixon hails company-wide Covid-19 response

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Willmott Dixon’s CEO Rick Willmott has praised the “phenomenal team effort” shown across its business, as 100% of its sites remain open despite Covid-19

In its latest results for 2019, Willmott Dixon revealed pre-tax profit was down from £37.5m to £31.3m on turnover of £1.246bn compared to £1.32bn in 2018.

The contractor also revealed it only shutdown three construction sites during lockdown but is now prepared for project delays and increasing costs as a result of new working procedures.

Pre-tax margins decreased marginally from 2.8% to 2.5%.

Willmott Dixon finished 2019 with £93m cash in the bank.

Covid-19 success

Group chief executive, Rick Willmott, commented: “Our performance in 2019 has provided a good platform for our company to continue delivering projects for customers during the challenges created by Covid-19.

“It’s been a phenomenal team effort from our people as we have adjusted our business to maintain operations during Covid-19, one that has required a high level of resourcefulness.

“Our people quickly embraced the changes required to adhere to the Construction Leadership Council’s Site Operating Procedures, with projects and processes reconfigured to provide a safe working environment for our people and supply chain partners, whose support has been brilliant over the past few months.

“Our sites have remained open throughout, using adaptations like one-way systems for circulation, GoPro technology to capture progress, motion activated voiceover systems to remind people to abide by social distancing and staggered breaks and lunch times, with clear signage for social distancing in canteens.

“We now expect all sites to remain open, although Covid-19 related safety measures and availability of materials will mean that output levels will be reduced compared to before the pandemic. While this will inevitably impact upon pre-pandemic expectations in terms of timescales and budgets, I really appreciate how supportive our customers are being on this issue.”

Moving forward

Discussing future prospects, Willmott continued: “While we have a healthy forward order book that stands at over £1bn, it’s inevitable that some projects may be delayed or postponed owing to the current economic situation created by Covid-19.

“My message to customers is that we are an industry that is very good at solving complex problems. We have shown in our response to the pandemic that we can adapt our processes to continue building safely and deliver the important infrastructure that will be a driver for future economic growth.”

Impact of Covid-19

In relation to the impact of Covid-19 on projects going forward, Willmott added: “I think we need to be realistic that output reductions linked to social distancing measures, coupled with a possible lag in the supply of some materials from overseas, will inevitably have a continued impact on project prices and programme timings in the short to medium term.

“We are working closely with our supply chain partners and customers to mitigate this as much as possible, while ensuring that projects starting this year now take into account the likely Covid effect.”

Willmott concluded: “Willmott Dixon and the construction industry will have a huge roll to play in generating future growth that will help our economy recover when we come out of the current situation.

“That includes the work we do in local communities to sustain jobs and create a catalyst for inward investment.”

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