Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister’s Statement over the holiday weekend on the current situation concerning Covid 19 and the lockdown arrangements. There will be some lifting of current restrictions especially regarding exercise and travel. Of particular interest are the comments about returning to work. The Prime Minister said that where possible those that can work from home should continue to do so but if that is not possible then a return to work should be encouraged.
I would therefore like to update you on the situation at Centura Group. As you recall the Covid 19 problems became apparent nine weeks ago in mid-March. Since then we have experienced a reduction in sales across all Group companies and especially in CRL. The latest trading figures to the end of March confirm a drop in sales. During April, May and June it is expected that the sales will remain depressed. We have not stopped working on our projects and sites through choice. Instead our clients in England and Wales have asked us to postpone many projects and in Scotland the Government has stopped all construction related activity.
On the sites that remain open we have adapted our working procedures to not only maintain our fundamental obligation to provide a safe place of work but also to adopt the Site Operating Procedures recommended by Government to protect our teams from the coronavirus. We are confident that we can provide a safe place of work on all our projects and at all our sites. Our regional teams are working closely with our clients to develop procedures so that our sites can re-open and our sales can improve. We have agreed restart dates with many clients, but those dates vary from mid-May until August. We remain busy providing tenders and quotations for many future opportunities.
In summary, Centura is still operating below its normal capacity and that continues to put pressure on our cash reserves. This situation is expected to remain unchanged until the end of May with an improvement as we go into June and July. As our sites re-open we will of course be asking some employees to return to work and be taken off furlough leave accordingly. Others will have to stay on furlough until there is work available for them. This is likely to be a gradual process over the next few weeks during which the management of cash flow will be our prime focus.
Everyone in Centura has been asked to make significant sacrifices both financially and of course personally as a direct result of this crisis. I thank each and every one of you for your dedication and understanding during this most difficult time. Many staff are working exceptionally long hours and doing whatever it takes to manage both our finances and of course our active sites. We are working very hard to prepare the Group for what may be a very different and challenging future.
Currently the UK is managing the virus problems. We must remain alert in the next weeks and months and follow the guidance given by Government. We will get through this, but our priority must remain the safety and health of our families and those around us.