Family-owned contractor reports record sales

EW Beard Ltd has posted a 9 per cent rise in turnover to hit £179.9m – its highest-ever amount – for 2023, in the face of material supply shortages and price inflation.

Turnover in the 12 months to 31 December grew by 9 per cent from £165.6m to £179.9m, generating a pre-tax profit of £3.9m compared with £3.3m the previous year, according to its latest set of accounts.

The resulting margin of 2.2 per cent was slightly higher than in 2022 (2 per cent).

Despite the rising materials costs, chairman and chief executive Mark Beard said in his strategic report accompanying the accounts that inflation had contributed to the firm’s turnover growth.

He also highlighted a “focus on framework opportunities” including the firm’s reappointment to the £8bn nationwide Procure Partnerships Framework.

In 2023, the family-owned contractor also won a place on London Housing Consortium Procurement Group’s (LHC) Modern Methods of Construction framework.

Finance director Fraser Johns described strong demand, especially in the education and commercial sectors. Individual project highlights for EW Beard last year included completing a £26m extension and refurbishment of the Grade II*-listed Rhodes House in Oxford.

EW Beard was ranked 88th in the CN100 2023 list of top UK contractors. The firm is debt-free, and Beard said it ended 2023 with a “healthy” cash position of £33.8m in the bank, albeit marginally lower than the £36.1m recorded in 2022.

The firm employed a monthly average of 314 staff in 2023.

During the year a dividend of £557,000 was paid out, compared with £503,000 the previous year. Beard said the firm’s directors had recommended a £700,000 dividend be paid out after the end of the year.

Beard highlighted his firm’s emphasis on paying its supply chain promptly, noting “an average time from invoice to payment of 29 days with 93 per cent of invoices paid within terms in 2023”.

He said: “Supply-chain goodwill and trust has been central to our relative success. Being part of the Prompt Payment Code further demonstrates our commitment to paying our supply chain promptly.”

EW Beard had a £160m pipeline of work by February this year. Beard said this was a similar level to the first two months of 2023 but that this year the firm will not have to contend with “the volatility and magnitude of inflation”.

Work this year includes the £24.5m redevelopment of the One Friary Building in Bristol (pictured), which EW Beard is expanding for Bankfoot APAM.

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