'˜Crossrail sales will put us back on right track'

'‹LANDSCAPE PRODUCTS firm Marshalls is gearing up for a big sales boost as Cross'‹rail, the new high frequency railway for London and the South East, prepares to announce contracts.

Elland-based Marshalls has pitched for 100 different contracts, from supplying paving on platforms to decking out stations.

Chief executive Martyn Coffey said: “The excitement for us is Crossrail. Hopefully we’ll get our first contracts in the next few weeks or months.”

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He was upbeat despite the share price falling seven per cent to 321.9p after revenue growth slowed following wet weather earlier this year.

“Marshalls’ update highlights that revenue growth has slowed in the period, due to some project deferrals and various other short- term factors,” analysts at Numis said in a note.

​Mr Coffey said: “The share price is where it was this time last week. It went up on very little trading. In commercial we have seen a bit of a softening. The weather hasn’t been great and we’ve seen an effect on major projects like road projects and Crossrail.

“Even house building had a sluggish start but it’s starting to pick up.”

He expects orders to pick up now the weather has improved.

Asked whether Brexit worries are having an impact, he said: “Any form of indecision means people don’t make investment decisions. We’d like the event to pass so we can move on.”

The UK makes up 95 per cent of Marshalls’ business so Brexit is unlikely to have a big impact.

Marshalls said the underlying indicators within the business are strong and it is confident of achieving its expectations for 2016.

The Construction Products Association’s Spring Forecast predicts growth in UK market volumes of 3.0 per cent in 2016 and growth of 3.6 per cent in 2017.

This reflects a slight downward revision from the Winter Forecast, although the Construction Products Association continues to highlight strong fundamentals across the construction sector.

Marshalls said it is well placed to deliver the growth initiatives set out in its 2020 Strategy and the group is deriving benefits from its operational gearing.

Marshalls’ UK revenue for the ​four​ months ​to April 30 ​rose one per cent ​to​ £120​m.

The group said t​he​ increase is against strong comparatives for 2015 and reflects a slight softening in ​c​ommercial sales over the last ​two​ months.

​Marshalls maintained its market share during this period although some customer projects were delayed in response to short term uncertainty in the wider economy. Sales ​to​ the ​p​ublic ​s​ector and ​c​ommercial end market, which ​makes up 64 per cent of​ ​Marshalls’ sales, were in line with ​the previous year. The ​g​roup ​said it will target parts of the market where higher levels of growth are anticipated, such as ​r​ail, ​n​ew build ​h​ousing, ​w​ater ​management and ​s​treet ​f​urniture.

Sales ​to​ the ​d​omestic market, which represent​s 31 per cent of Marshalls’ sales, ​rose four per cent. ​A​ survey of domestic installers at the end of April​​ revealed order books of 12.4 weeks​, the highest order book to be reported at this time of year.