Posted on 02/09/20

Message from the Chairman

I opened my message in the last newsletter by saying that we had started to see the effects of Covid-19 around the world and in the UK, little did any of us know at that time how much we would be affected.

We certainly never envisaged that COVID-19 would bring the Country to a standstill and affect us in such a severe way. As a business our number  one priority is our people, and the grave reality of this virus has been devestating too many families accross the world. We have had a number of staff test positive but thankfully recovered, yet tragically, we have had staff lose family members. To those families who have lost or continuing to fight their battle with this virus, we take this time to send our sincerest condolences.

I would be lying if I said that the Pandemic has not had a dramatic effect on the business like so many others, but we have continued to follow the Government advice which has seen us through to date. 

At the height of the crisis we dropped to about 30% capacity and had 147 people on Furlough, and many of those who continued to work did so on reduced pay, I would like to thank you all for the support and dedication you have given during this period to help us keep the company going and heading in the right direction. Due to the crisis we have been forced to look at the headcount in areas of the business and has sadly led to us to make the very difficult decision of releasing some members of staff. 

As we move forward we now have only a few people left on Furlough some of those part time, and we hope they will be back at work in the near future. Many of our teams are still working from home, either full time or part time and this is something that will continue for the foreseeable future. We will be reviewing homeworking in October and will update everyone in due course (hopefully we will not have had a second wave!).

As a business we still have hurdles to face, we will all have to live with the effects of Coronavirus for a long time to come. We have seen some of our sites terminated early and mothballed, and start dates for others put back until the economy stabilises again. Fortunately this is a limited number and most of our sites are now continuing to work. Our tender enquiries are at an almost record high but it is becoming increasingly difficult to get the projects to award stage. I am, however, pleased to say that we have had some good tender wins in the last few weeks and we are on the cusp of many more.

All of our planned marketing and sponsorship events for this year were cancelled as were most of the awards schemes as well, but to buck the trend the Constructing Excellence Awards decided to continue with a virtual ceremony! I have to say this was a very bold thing to do, with 165 people involved. We were nominated for two awards People Development, and SME of the year. So on 2nd July, as requested, we came to work in our Dinner suits. We gave our presentations to the judges in both of our categories, and I am delighted to say we won the People Development award and were runners up in the SME of the year! To win an award at any time is a great honour but to win one and get some good news in these uncertain times was amazing and just the boost we needed. Everyone of our employees must take credit for our win as this was a real family effort.

We have continued to carry out work for the Walker Trust over the last few months by donating to causes raising money to help NHS staff and paying for and delivering afternoon teas to key workers. Fundraising has been difficult for obvious reasons but we will be looking at fundraising events once we can all socialise freely again. It has never been more important that we carry on the good work to date and continue to help those in need.

Communication has become a critical topic as we have been unable to meet and talk face to face. Now more than ever we appreciate the need to be seen and heard, we will continue to communicate through snail mail, email, or virtually on our social channels, in particular our new YouTube channel.

I am truly hopeful that there will not be a second wave and new cases will continue to fall and life will return to normal (the winter is going to be a big test for that). As a business we will continue to strive to do the best we can in whatever circumstance we face and we are as committed as ever, if not more so, to consolidating and building the business to provide for us all into the future.

Thank you for all your cooperation in these difficult times and please stay safe.

Steve Walker - Chairman