JRL’s rapid growth stalled by pandemic

30 June 2021 | Construction

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JRL’s growth was halted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Revenue for the London and South East-focused firm dropped to £569m in the year to 31 December 2020, down from £621.9m in 2019. The contractor has grown rapidly in recent years by taking on larger contracts, with turnover more than doubling since 2016 when it stood at £289m.

The pandemic resulted in new jobs being delayed and output falling on live projects, causing turnover to fall. The company expects to return to growth in 2021.

The pandemic was also blamed for cutting pre-tax profit from £33.5m to 26m, which left the group with a margin of 4.6 per cent compared to 5.4 per cent in 2019.

JRL has built up its specialist contracting capabilities and is now able to deliver elements including demolition, concrete, M&E and envelope on its own projects. Chairman and founder John Reddington said JRL’s self-delivery model had helped it to navigate the pandemic and keep projects on track. “Our in-house design, manufacturing, plant hire and contracting divisions all quickly adapted to the new environment and were able to continue delivering through the year,” he said.

JRL’s tier-one contracting division, Midgard, saw revenue surge to £403.9m in 2020 from £308.1m. This growth was offset by revenue falls at groundworks operation J Reddington and some of its other smaller specialist operations.

Cash levels increased from £92.1m to £112.2m, but a rise in its overdraft facility from £29.9m to £47.2m contributed to the company ending the year with net debt of £500,000 compared to net cash of £2.2m in 2019. JRL also has more than £60m in finance leases primarily through its plant hire business.

The group claimed £3.6m through the furlough scheme but did not take out any government-backed loans. The company also did not pay a dividend for the year.

Reddington said the company viewed offsite construction as “the future of the industry”, and that JRL was investing to build up its capabilities in that area.

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