PFI schemes help Sewell to hit £100m turnover target

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THE Sewell Group saw turnover rocket by 56 per cent to a record £102.9m last year after completing a series of taxpayer-backed private finance initiative schemes for the public sector.

The Hull-based construction firm, which built Britain’s first PFI school in the city in 1999, finished three new school programmes and a healthcare scheme, allowing it to recover its design and development costs.

Pre-tax profits nearly doubled to £4.14m in 2011 from £2.17m in 2010, according to the group’s annual report published yesterday.

The group paid dividends on ordinary shares of £535,000 during 2011, up from £223,000 the previous year, although the highest paid director – believed to be Paul Sewell – saw his salary and benefits fall to £480,000 from £640,000 in 2010.

Mr Sewell said 2011 marked the culmination of a five-year journey for the group.

“After a number of years of investment and project development, we are pleased to see these schemes coming to fruition,” he added.

The Sewell Group reached financial close on its first three design-and-build schemes for the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme in Hull.

It also reached financial close on a Local Improvement Finance Trust project to develop healthcare facilities.

Mr Sewell said the group’s £47m construction business witnessed the most significant growth against the previous year and experienced “unprecedented” levels of turnover during 2011.

This year, the group expects to complete four of the five major on-site schemes which ran into 2012. It also hopes to bring another three school schemes to financial close this year. The construction division reported no major accidents during the year.

The group endured difficult trading conditions in its £53m-turnover service stations business, hit by volatile fuel prices and pressures on consumer spending.

But despite those conditions being unlikely to change, the group plans to strengthen its position in Hull and East Yorkshire through redevelopment, acquisitions and rebranding.

The 135-year-old group has played a leading role in the regeneration of Hull and prides itself on its corporate social responsibility and employee engagement practices.

It invested £500,000 in the Sewell Skills Academy last year to create a legacy in Hull “beyond new schools and health centres” and give young people an insight into the construction industry and a chance to gain practical skills.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Sewell said: “We are a company that likes to innovate and also do the right thing for the communities we serve.”

He said last night: “We are looking forward to a similar year going forward. We will make a strong performance and continue to do the right thing.”