Marshalls sales leap as homeowners spend their Covid savings on sprucing up the back garden

Paving specialist Marshalls has reported a big jump in sales after homeowners decided to spruce up their outside space during lockdown.

Marshalls has paved many UK landmarks including York Minster and London’s Trafalgar Square
Marshalls has paved many UK landmarks including York Minster and London’s Trafalgar Square

Covid restrictions have inspired many households to improve their outdoor living space at a time when people had nothing else to spend their money on.

The Elland-based firm now expects this year’s trading to be ahead of its previous expectations as trading improves and order books remain strong.

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Sales for the first four months of 2021 rose by almost 50 per cent to £191m compared with 2020 and were 6 per cent higher than in 2019.

The paving group’s star performer was customers upgrading their gardens and driveways, which doubled versus 2020 and were up 20 per cent compared with 2019.

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

The Construction Products Association’s recent spring forecast predicts an increase in UK market volumes of 13 per cent in 2021 and 5 per cent in 2022.

Marshalls said it is focused on developing future growth opportunities and delivering the strategic objectives set out in its five year strategy, whilst ensuring that operations incorporate health and safety practices that go “over and above” current recommended Covid-19 guidelines.

Analyst Graeme Kyle at Shore Capital said: “Marshalls’ trading update was notably upbeat. Management indicated that 2021 trading will be ‘ahead of its previous expectations’.

“Domestic like-for-like sales were 20 per cent higher than 2019 which reflects the continued surge in UK residential RMI (repair maintenance and improvement) demand amid the current lockdown. Domestic installers’ order backlog at end April was 17.2 weeks (versus 19.4 weeks at the end of February) which is well above the 12-13 weeks which, pre-Covid, was considered by the company to be a ‘natural ceiling’.

“Public sector and commercial like-for-like sales showed a ‘slight increase’ versus 2019. This indicates a sharper recovery in revenues than we had expected, driven in the main, we think, by a robust recovery in housebuilder volumes.”

Analyst Clyde Lewis at Peel Hunt added: “Marshalls has reported further strong trading in the last few months with domestic activity continuing to lead the way.

“With an improved outlook for the balance of the year, management expects to beat current forecasts.

“As a result we upgrade our pre-tax profit estimates by £3m (up 4 to 5 per cent) for each of the next three years and think there is still a bit more upside risk left in our figures.

“We move our target price to 785p (from 765p) and retain our ‘add’ recommendation.”

Established in the late 1880s, Marshalls is the UK’s leading manufacturer of natural stone and innovative concrete hard landscaping products, supplying the construction, home improvement and landscape markets.

The firm said it provides the product ranges, design services, technical expertise, innovative ideas and inspiration to transform gardens, drives and public and commercial landscapes.

Marshalls operates its own quarries and manufacturing sites throughout the UK, including a national network of manufacturing and distribution sites, and has operations in Belgium and sales representation in other international markets.