Henry Boot outlines plans to get through crisis

Property developer Henry Boot said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant economic and social disruption, which has materially affected the group’s near-term trading.

Henry Boot has completed the 44m first phase of The Glass Works, the Barnsley town centre redevelopment

However, the Sheffield-based firm said it has a "clear and effective plan to get through these uncertain times" bearing in mind it has no debt, cash in the bank and the firm

has cut out unnecessary expenditure and reduced activity.

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The group's chief executive, Tim Roberts, said: "Long term, we have extensive operational skills, which we believe will continue to provide valued services to customers in key markets such as residential, manufacturing and logistics and urban development.

"We also have a construction business with a bias to public sector investment in areas such as health, education and urban regeneration. These are all sustainable markets, so we also have a firm eye on the future success of the business."

Henry Boot has closed its office network and people who can work remotely are doing so.

At the end of March, it paused work on construction sites and closed sales centres, except where essential work or supplies were being delivered to vital NHS sites.

Following a review and the pause in construction activity, all of its construction sites and sales centres are now open and are adhering to the strict precautions, which have hit its output and efficiency.

The group's jointly owned Leeds-based housebuilder is now operating on all of its sites and, following the change in the Government’s guidelines, it has reopened its show homes.

The reduced activity affecting construction, housebuilding and plant hire has meant it is using the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

A minority of the workforce has been furloughed and their pay has been topped up to 100 per cent by the group. In recent weeks, it has started to reduce the number of people furloughed as it adapts to new ways of working and productivity increases.

The land promotion business continues to operate remotely, identifying and promoting strategic land over the long term. There are several contracted sales due to complete in the near future, and the majority of these are with the UK’s major housebuilders.

The group will pay a reduced final dividend for 2019 of 1.3p and the full year dividend payment for 2019 will be 5.0p (56 per cent of the 9p paid in 2018).

Bonuses have been cut by half and executive and non-executive directors have taken a 20 per cent pay cut.

The group reported a fall in 2019 revenue from £397m to £380m, which was due to the successful completion in August of the £333m TECA project in Aberdeen.