By Keith Cooper
This year’s index shows that inflationary pressures squeezed scaffolding firms’ revenues, profits and margins.
The median pre-tax margin for the top 10 scaffolding specialists has fallen to 5 per cent against 6.7 per cent for the firms listed in the 2022 index.
However, the top 10 firms have boosted their aggregate revenue by 21 per cent compared with the companies on the 2022 leaderboard.
Five businesses’ margins contracted, although the worst performer was eight-placed PHD Modular Access, which shrunk by 10.6 per cent and saw a 58 per cent pre-tax profit drop from £3.9m to £1.6m. GKR Scaffolding (ninth) was the only other firm to see its pre-tax profit fall, from £1.4m to £1.2m.
The picture for the other eight companies is mixed. First-placed Kaefer and TRAD Group in fourth each moved back into the black, while Brogan Group only posted a 0.4 percentage-point profit increase (although this is based on its previous two years of accounts, as it had not filed new ones before the data-collection cut-off date).
New entrant Lyndon SGB posted increases in revenue (9 per cent) and pre-tax profit (31 per cent), while its margin broadened slightly, from 1.4 per cent to 1.6 per cent.
Kaefer turned last year’s £500,000 loss into a £3.2m profit, as its revenue rose by 10.8 per cent, from £234.1m to £259.4m.
Alltask moves into sixth place after posting the biggest proportional rise in revenue of 48.5 per cent, and it also more than trebled its pre-tax profit to £6.5m. The firm’s top line also benefitted from a doubling of the turnover of EA Scaffolding & Systems, which it acquired in 2020.
GKR Scaffolding and TRAD Group saw turnover decline by 0.7 and 8.2 per cent respectively.
Despite its drop in pre-tax profit and margin, PHD Modular Access was buoyed by a 24 per cent revenue boost, pushing it up one place to eighth. In its latest accounts, PHD says its business had performed well amid “challenging” trading conditions, “labour-resource scarceness” and the adverse effects of inflation.
GKR Scaffolding says it experienced increased distribution costs fuelled by “inflationary pressure” and has put in place “enhanced planning” to manage heightened material costs.
Alltask chief executive Daniel Fincham attributes his firm’s exponential growth to the digitisation of its business; significant investment in system (modular) scaffolding; and increased efficiency in logistics. “Digitisation has facilitated growth in our turnover without the corresponding hike in fixed overheads,” he says. “System scaffolding allows us to undertake more work with the same labour force.”
Solving the skills shortage should be a top priority for the scaffolding industry, Fincham adds.
Kaefer business and strategy director Trevor Woodward says the company has benefitted from government investment in core markets: nuclear, naval shipbuilding and energy transition.
“The country is still trying to recover from the pandemic and the economic impact that has had. Now we are all fighting against inflation and feeling the pinch, as are our customers,” he tells Construction News. “Right now, we are focused on organic growth and just making sure we are building on our strengths.”
|2022||2021||Change||Company||Latest revenue (£m)||Previous revenue (£m)||Change (£m)||Latest pre-tax profit (£m)||Previous pre-tax profit (£m)||Latest pre-tax margin (%)||Previous pre-tax margin (%)||Financial Year Ending|
|8||9||+1||PHD Modular Access||29.67||23.98||5.69||1.63||3.86||5.5||16.1||31/08/2022|