Home improvements boom boosts Marshalls expectations

Paving specialist Marshalls has reported a record start to the year as homeowners spend their Covid savings on renovating their outside space.

Marshalls has paved many UK landmarks including the area around York Minster

The Elland-based firm said this record start builds on a strong recovery in sales during the second half of 2020.

In January and February, sales rose 7 per cent and orders were up 12 per cent compared with the first two months of 2020 before lockdown struck. The company now expects its 2021 performance to be better than previously thought.

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Marshalls said this positive trend shows no sign of abating, with well over half of patio and driveway installers on Marshalls’ registered list reporting backlogs of over 20 weeks.

The company, which has paved many UK landmarks including the area around York Minster, London’s Trafalgar Square and the South Bank, is currently working on Crossrail and the pedestrianisation of part of Oxford Street.

In the year ahead, the company will invest a record £30m in its operations, including a flagship dual block plant at its St Ives site - the first facility of its kind in the UK.

Marshalls has reinstated its dividend, having repaid all Government support received during the pandemic last year.

The group's chief executive, Martyn Coffey, said: “Trading has started strongly in 2021.

"Despite wider market uncertainty, the underlying indicators in our main growth markets of new build housing, road, rail and water management remain positive.

"Although market demand remains uncertain, we remain focused on developing future growth opportunities and delivering the strategic objectives in our 5 year Strategy. Our strategy continues to be underpinned by strong market positions, focused investment plans and an established brand. Marshalls’ liquidity is strong and will support our investment priorities going forward.

"Encouraged by the strong trading performance, the board is raising its expectations for 2021.”

Revenue fell 13 per cent to £470m in the year to December 31 and pre-tax profits were down 68 per cent to £22.5m as the pandemic took its toll on the company.

The group said its positive actions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic ensured a much improved performance in the second half of the year, which saw sales growth at higher rates than was initially expected.

"We have prioritised the safety and well-being of our employees and customers and by maintaining robust health and safety procedures we have ensured that we could continue operating and delivering to our customers safely," said Mr Coffey.