Renew proves resilient during virus outbreak

Engineering services group Renew Holdings has reported a record first half and resilient trading through Covid-19, with 80 per cent of its activities continuing during the crisis as they are deemed critical to the coronavirus response.

Renew's chief executive, Paul Scott
Renew's chief executive, Paul Scott

The Leeds-based firm said it is well placed to play a significant role in the long term opportunities that will emerge across UK infrastructure, a sector that will play an important role in rebuilding the economy.

The group said its results reflect the reliable, long term nature of the UK infrastructure markets in which it operates, a strategy reinforced in the Government’s latest Budget when it committed to investing £640bn in infrastructure over the next five years.

Renew's chief executive, Paul Scott, said: "If you take rail for example, when the scale of the pandemic became obvious to people, there was a recognition that getting people around on the rail network was absolutely essential. This was designated critical to the response.

"With trains running at very low capacity, we've actually brought some campaigns forward."

The group's other operating areas have also seen strong demand during the Covid-19 crisis.

"Our water activities have been strong because at a time when everybody was forced to stay at home, the reliance upon the water network, both clean and waste, was absolutely essential. Again, it was designated as critical," said Mr Scott.

"We were extremely busy in telecoms and again that was deemed critical and it involved doing some 5G work around the Nightingale Hospital down in London."

The group is now working hard to kickstart the 20 per cent of its business that was not deemed critical to the coronavirus response.

"We are working closely with our customers," said Mr Scott.

"We were hardest hit in parts of the business like land remediation, which were relatively easy to suspend as they were not seen as critical.

"However, we've made good progress there in recent weeks. We only have around three sites in land remediation that haven't opened up yet and we're working with customers to get those back in May and into June.

"We are working hard at getting the remaining 20 per cent back. We are going to make progress in the weeks ahead rather than the months ahead."

The group said it was quick to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We immediately formed a Covid-19 leadership team," said Mr Scott.

"We've introduced innovations like moving shift times so people are working at different times of the day now, so we keep people seperated. We don't have groups of people in one place at one time.

"Logistically, it has been a major challenge."

Renew said its essential engineering maintenance services at six of the UK's thermal power stations, including Drax in North Yorkshire, have continued with little interruption.

"We see Drax as a strong customer," said Mr Scott.

"They have a responsibility to continue to power up the grid. They asked us to continue that essential service of maintaining some of their electrical infrastructure assets.

"We see Drax as a really important customer to us going forward."

In the six months to March 31, Renew's revenues rose 4 per cent to £314m.