Laing O’Rourke posts strong profit growth

Chief executive Ray O’Rourke

In the year to 31st March 2020, Laing O’Rourke made a pre-tax profit of £45.5m (2019: £32.7m).

With revenue from continuing operations down 11% to £2,448.5m (2019: £2,753.4m), gross profit margin improved to 10.4% (2019: 7.7%).

A £26m improvement in earnings before interest and tax to £72.9m was attributed to “a strategic focus on bid selection, early client engagement and certainty in delivery”.

The privately owned construction group generated a net cash improvement of £22.3m and finished the year with net cash of £155.2m. By the end of November 2020, group net cash r was £161m.

At financial year-end, Laing O’Rourke had an order book of £8.2bn, It now has 98% of forecast FY21 revenue secured or anticipated and 75% of FY22 revenue either secured, anticipated or at preferred bidder stage.

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Chief executive Ray O’Rourke said: “As we end 2020, our collective experience, coupled with a relentless focus on leading change in the sector, positions us to confidently face the post-Covid, post-Brexit scenarios. While there are still challenges in the market, we remain committed to the changes necessary to transform our business and lead a more productive, safe and resilient construction industry.

“The past year has strengthened our resolve and the crisis has reminded policymakers of the strategic national importance of construction, creating a new wave of interest in the role and capabilities of the modern methods of construction on which our operating model is based. This new way of building will be vital to delivering tomorrow’s infrastructure and buildings, and to economic recovery.”

Group chairman Sir John Parker said: “The industry probably has the best opportunities it has seen for the last 50 years, given government commitments in Australia and the UK to transform infrastructure investment. Their targets are in sectors – healthcare, education, energy and transport infrastructure – where Laing O’Rourke has a sustained experience and record of success.

“Our positive financial position means we stand ready to play our active part in post-pandemic economic recovery. Our sector, as it has done in the past, will be at the heart of this collective effort. It will offer us exciting opportunities to demonstrate the benefits of our unique operating model and our digital and manufacturing-based modern methods of construction.”

Chief financial officer Rowan Baker, who joined in September 2020, said: “The FY20 performance and our progress already in FY21 show the resilience of our operating model during times of volatility. It also gives us a high level of confidence that the next refinancing process will be conducted well ahead of the target date of 31st December 2021.”

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