As the Coronavirus Crisis develops I would like to update you all on our current position.
As I am sure you have learned from the press and media the Government is expecting the peak of the UK coronavirus problems to arrive in the next few days. This is a best guess based on what has happened in the past few weeks both in the UK and of course in other countries. The process of lockdown and social distancing is intended to reduce the cases of the virus and hence reduce the pressure on NHS resources. We are told by Government health advisors that the upward “curve” is being flattened. Yesterday the Government confirmed another 3 weeks of lockdown. This will take us to 7th May before the next planned review.
In Centura Group I estimate that the curve representing our activities has reached its lowest point. Our best estimate is that we are currently operating at somewhere between 20 and 25% of our normal capacity. There are mixed fortunes across the Group. For example all CRL Scottish operations remain postponed but our team in Equilux are working almost normally. Other regions and subsidiaries lie somewhere between. The good news is that we remain active with our CRL Highways projects and some of the contracts postponed by our clients 3 weeks ago may be starting up in early May. In addition we are still receiving enquiries for future contracts and our order book remains strong. The current situation in England and Wales is that construction activities are allowed to continue subject to the recommendations issued this week, referred to as Site Operating Procedures Version 3. These procedures make specific reference to maintaining social distancing and hand washing. This document has been circulated to many mangers in the Group and I urge you all to become familiar with its contents.
Many of you have now been transferred to furlough. People on furlough now include Directors of both Centura and CRL, many senior managers and other staff. Most staff are now on reduced salary, furlough or a combination of both. The reason is simple. Our cash income has reduced significantly and will continue to do so until we are once again operating at full capacity. The Government furlough scheme will contribute further cash to the business. We are promised that cash by the end of April but the application system is not planned to start until Monday 20th April. That means that all the wages and salaries that are currently being paid are drawn from our own funds, which are being depleted. This is the most difficult period that the business has ever experienced. I would like to thank each one of you for your understanding, support and the huge personal sacrifice that you are making.
Everyone who can work is concentrating on either collecting and preserving cash, working on site or planning for the future restart of activities in May and June. When we are allowed to restart I must ask all of you to be prepared for to cope with a rising workload in difficult conditions. The company will adopt all the Government advised Site Operating Procedures which will require changed working conditions and a great awareness for personal safety. We may experience supply chain difficulties and lack of resources as we restart activities. I would also ask you all to manage your leave requests sensibly and in agreement with your line managers. This is necessary as part of our objective to preserve jobs and the future of the business.
The next few weeks are going to be crucial to maintain the stability of the Group. We will need the promised Government support for furlough payments. We will need maximum commitment from all our staff. We will do whatever it takes.
CORONAVIRUS COVID 19 - ANNOUNCEMENT 17TH APRIL 2020