The latest financial year for the Centura Group ended on 30th June 2021. Currently we are preparing our management accounts up to that date so nothing is finalised, but early indications are that the Group has had a successful 12 months of trading.
If you cast your minds back to the beginning of that financial year you will remember that our fortunes in midsummer 2020 were very challenging. When the Covid crisis first struck in March and April 2020 we experienced a massive reduction in our sales which was followed by several weeks of inactivity on site. It is of course operations on site that generate income for the Group, and without income no company can function. Every part of the UK was in the same boat and no-one had any idea how long the pandemic would last nor how individual businesses might cope.
Luckily our work was never stopped by the English and Welsh administrations but in Scotland there was a complete ban on construction for many weeks. If not for the sacrifices made by every employee of this Group, and the benefits of the Governments Furlough scheme, Centura would be a very different company today.
Over the past few days the UK administrations have made several statements describing and clarifying the Covid rules after Monday 19th July. Essentially most of the past restrictions are lifted. We are in a third wave of infections, but because of the vaccination scheme, a build up of immunity and some common sense it is not expected to be anything like as damaging as before. Restrictions on travel are also being relaxed as we move into the summer months. Many transport authorities will still require face coverings to be worn. In Scotland there are some relaxations but the wearing of face coverings is still a requirement in many circumstances. Further easing of restrictions in Scotland are expected in early August.
Accordingly I look forward to a full return to work of all Centura Group and subsidiary employees from Monday 19th July. It is sensible to follow the guidelines that we have all become used to since March 2020. My understanding is that hand washing, social distancing and the use of face coverings will all have their benefits over the next few months. The company will of course provide a safe place of work subject to national guidelines. As in my previous announcement the company will continue to provide testing kits and will encourage regular testing.
I do not believe that the Covid crisis is over. It is inevitable that infections will continue and that some of us will be affected. The Government has said that “We will all have to learn to live with the virus” and I think that is a fair statement. If we manage the risk and continue to be sensible then the personal risk is low and we can move on.
The culture of all parts of the Centura Group is one of inclusivity, we care for our staff and above all we work as a team and help each other. This must continue. We must all strive for success in what we do at work. We must continue to preserve the jobs and careers of all our staff. By focusing on success we help each other to ensure the future prosperity of the business.
I would also like to remind everyone about annual leave arrangements. You may recall that last year the government allowed up to 4 weeks statutory paid holiday to be carried forward for 2 years if it was not taken because of Covid. As I have asked previously please arrange leave with your line manager with plenty of notice so that clashes with colleagues are avoided. The Industry Christmas shutdown this year will be from Friday 24th December 2021 with works restarting on Monday 10th January 2022. This year all our offices will be closed over the same period. All employees will be required to take 7 days annual leave over Christmas and New Year 2021/22. There may be slightly different arrangements for our teams in Scotland. There will be no payments for leave not taken.
Thanks to everyone for what you have done to help Centura in its most difficult period. We have got through it successfully but now we must look to the future and the exciting opportunities that await us.