I would like to update you all on the current position in Centura Group Companies.
During the past few weeks we have seen a gradual easing of “Lockdown” alongside a welcome reduction in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus. On July 4th we can expect a further relaxation in pubs, restaurants and shops. But we must not assume that this problem has gone away. We must continue to follow the advice from the government especially regarding handwashing, social distancing and the wearing of face coverings where required. This is common sense and has now become a routine for all of us both at home and at work. None of us wants to see an escalation of infection and the return of restrictions. All the managers and staff in Centura have been developing new ways of working and new procedures in our offices and on site. Our regional offices are all open and I am confident that we can fulfil our obligations to provide and maintain a safe place of work.
When this pandemic first started the Group lost more than 80% of its sales in less than a week. As you might imagine this was an extremely worrying time with the main issue being the management of our cash reserves. As a private company we definitely do not have a “Magic Money Tree”. Instead our managers and finance team have been absolutely brilliant in understanding the issues and working through the problems. Many of our clients have also been supportive. The government furlough scheme has been of enormous benefit by providing external financial help during the most difficult time in the Groups long history. Of note this summer is that Concrete Repairs Ltd celebrates 65 years of continuous trading, a record in our sector.
By far the most important contribution however has been the help and support that has been given to the Group by its employees. All of you have been affected significantly these past few weeks. You have had to endure the isolation of lockdown and the inevitable mental health issues. You have all made significant financial sacrifices to help the company. When required many staff have worked exceptional hours to understand new systems and procedures in order to maintain the business in readiness to resume trading.
Our new financial year starts on 1st July. None of us knows exactly how it may turn out but it would be incorrect to assume business as usual. There will be a recession, there will be unemployment and there will be many changes in our marketplace. The Directors and Managers have been working hard to set and agree our targets for the new financial year. Whilst in these past few weeks we have had significant projects withdrawn from us we are now able to return to many of our unfinished contracts and of course to start up some new ones. Inevitably we expect a year of reduced turnover in comparison with our previous record sales years of 2018 and 2019.
Because of that expectation we have begun to restructure our businesses to prepare for future change. As we move into the new financial year we must examine all of our cost bases and our efficiencies. We must all focus on reducing our operating costs and improving our cash flow. Many of you have been on furlough leave or have been working from home. As we move through the summer it may be necessary to maintain those arrangements for just a few more weeks. My last announcement was regarding your annual leave and I am pleased to report that your response has been positive.
Along with the rest of the country we are not yet through this crisis but we are working very hard to prepare the business for change and the “New Normal”. Everyone in the Group has made significant sacrifices. When asked you have all acted professionally and positively to help get through this very difficult period. As we start our new financial year I would like to thank each and every one of you for your contribution and help in our preparations for the future.
Group Chief Executive
CORONAVIRUS COVID 19 - ANNOUNCEMENT 1st July 2020