Willmott Dixon looks north after 61 per cent profit growth

Rick Willmott
Rick Willmott

Willmott Dixon has revealed plans to expand into Scotland after it reported strong growth in profits and turnover for 2014.

The construction and housing group saw turnover in 2014 grow 24 per cent to £1.26 billion (2013: £1.02bn) and profit before tax and amortisation increase by 61 per cent to £26.1 million (2013: 16.2m).

School and university projects were a particular feature of the company’s construction portfolio during the year.

Cash and bank balances also improved to £76m from £70m previously.

The builder presently operates out of five local company offices and is looking at plans to move north and fill out an area in the south as it approaches optimal unit turnover of £175m in some regions.

On its plans to move into Scotland, Rick Willmott, group chief executive, told the Construction Enquirer: “We are giving serious thought to expanding after an exceptional performance from our construction division.

“We have never had a business unit in Scotland and there is also now scope for a local company office in the Mid-south of England covering Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Berkshire.”

Willmott Dixon’s EarlyPay system, set up last year to speed up payments to suppliers, has been taken up by more than 120 companies, it was disclosed, with £170m of spend having gone through EarlyPay so far. Rick Willmott said he was “delighted” with the take up. Willmott Dixon invited more than 400 Category A suppliers to take part in the scheme.

Commenting on the 2014 Report and Accounts, Mr Willmott said: “Work volumes and turnover grew substantially in 2014, reflecting our focus on repeat business, strengthening our market share on frameworks and using innovations like our Sunesis school solution with Scape and our private rent homes product through Be:here to provide real solutions to school and housing deliver.

“A major highlight was being confirmed as development partner for Brentford FC, where we will deliver a 20,000 seat stadium and nearly 1,000 new homes by combining market sale with homes for private rent in a multi-phase housing regeneration scheme on a brownfield site close to Kew Bridge with the potential to create a transformational impact on local growth and prosperity.”

The breakdown of turnover contributed by each division was:

  • Construction: £753m
  • Interiors: £74m
  • Residential construction: £279m

  • Residential development: £113m
  • Support Services: £143m.
  • Mr Willmott added: “Construction is the core of our business and key highlights have been a further strengthening of our work in the universities sector with large projects for Bournemouth, West London and Birmingham universities where we are using our skills for working in live environments to create better, more efficient premises that allow these universities to attract students in a highly competitive market. Also, our roll-out of Sunesis continues, with 23 orders for schools that are creating 9,000 new places at significant cost and time savings for local authorities.

    “We are also expanding our work in the science and technology sector with facilities like the RAL Space Technology laboratory in Oxfordshire which will expand UK expertise in the satellite and space exploration industry.

    “Our skill-sets to deliver large projects that are a catalyst for town centre regeneration also increased; following our track-record on large projects like Tesco’s Woolwich Central, we can now add Keynsham Civic Centre, Redcar Community Heart and Flemingate in Beverley as examples where our projects stimulate important inward investment for regional economies.”

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