Willmott Dixon, the privately owned construction and interiors company, publishes its accounts for the 12 months to 31 December 2020.

2020 financial highlights:

  • Turnover £1.191bn (2019: £1.246bn)
  • Cash at bank up to £98.8m (2019: £93.1m)
  • Profit before tax and goodwill at £11.9m (2019: £31.3m)
  • Profit before tax margin of 1% (2019: 2.5%)
  • Repeat business: 60% of orders in 2020
  • Frameworks: 62% of turnover procured via frameworks
  • Order pipeline of £1.35bn

A position of strength

  • No debt at December 2020
  • Secured industry-first sustainability-linked credit facility (with HSBC UK, Lloyds Bank and Santander) – on basis oftarget to be zero carbon by 2030
  • Loan facilities now £50m – undrawn with no plans to do so
  • Net assets up to £190m (2019: £183m)
  • Construction business turnover – £1.024bn (2019: £1.097bn)
  • Interiors business turnover – £167m (2019: £149m)
  • 83% of budgeted work secured for 2021 (at March 2021)

Responsible business

  • Carbon Neutral for the 8th year in succession
  • Reduced carbon emissions (relative to turnover) by 13% between 2019 and 2020 and by 66% since 2010, exceeding target of 50% reduction target by 2020
  • Reduced construction waste (relative to turnover) by 58% since 2012
  • Powering all sites and offices (where we are responsible for energy procurement) with 100% natural renewable electricity

Willmott Dixon’s Group Chief Executive Rick Willmott says: “While the events of 2020 were completely unforeseen, I was extremely proud at how well our people adjusted to the challenges created by the pandemic. By quickly adapting our projects to meet the requirements of the CLC’s Site Operating Procedures, we were able to continue building for our customers in a safe manner. However, it was not possible to avoid Covid-19 impacting financial performance, and the task in 2021 is to repair that as much as possible.”

“Our teams have done a tremendous job securing 80 per cent of budgeted work already this year, and our £1.35bn order book provides a solid platform for the next 18 months. However, we are concerned for the industry because of the medium-term impact of Covid-19 on the global supply of materials.  Spiralling demand and restricted supply could create a number of immediate pressures in our sector, including:

  • rampant cost inflation in a generally fixed price environment will quickly erode supply chain margin
  • unavailability of materials will delay project completions
  • capital projects may no longer be financially viable leading to a hiatus in contract awards.

These are clearly areas that the wider industry will need to monitor carefully.”

“With this in mind our focus is on bringing new ideas and solutions to support our customers as they also emerge from the impact of Covid on their organisations, and our national network of offices means we can respond very quickly with our local supply chains to their evolving property needs.” 

 “The challenges of 2020 have not diminished our values, beliefs and desire to lead from the front in helping construction transition to a low carbon industry that is also a diverse and inclusive place to work for a new generation of people.”

“That includes announcing our Now or Never plan to become a zero carbon business by 2030, without the need for off-setting, and in this regard our carbon emissions (relative to turnover) reduced by another 13% between 2019 and 2020, and by 66% since 2010, exceeding our target to cut emissions at the end of 2020 by 50%. This strategy impacts and benefits many others, and our work with supply chain partners saw Willmott Dixon become the first contractor – and one of only three companies globally – to achieve Level 3 of the Carbon Trust’s industry leading Supply Chain Standard.”

“A key element in our aspiration to achieve gender parity across the company by 2030 is how we nurture a new generation of leaders in our company, and to support this we gained CITB funding at the start of this year to launch our Women’s Leadership Training programme.   Likewise our ‘purpose beyond profit’ focus on legacy remains a core part of our ethos, and I was delighted that 2020 saw £1.07m worth of our people’s time, skills and donations donated to support local communities – equivalent to £524 for every one of our people.”

“We will also embrace the new ways of working that have come out of this past 12 months, such as a more agile and flexible approach to office and home working, and the use of technology to keep teams connected and allow collaboration in a way that was impossible only a few years ago.” 

Looking to the future, Rick continued, “The Levelling Up agenda is creating opportunities for towns and cities to look at how they can invest in important projects that will breathe new life into high streets and create sustainable job opportunities in this post-Brexit period.” 

“This could include a combination of updating and re-purposing existing property, like we are seeing with our refurbishment of local cultural landmarks like the Bristol Beacon, The Box in Plymouth, Stockton Globe, Danum Gallery, Library and Museum in Doncaster and EMD Cinema in Walthamstow, to the type of large-scale town centre regenerations we are involved with in Rochdale, Pontypridd and Rotherham.”

 “We are pro-actively looking at how we can help our customers get the most from the economic resurgence that is gaining momentum, along with the opportunities presented by the Towns, Future High Streets and Levelling Up funds to create local prosperity that re-balances the national economy. Our Development Solutions team is working with councils to reduce risk and add capacity to accelerate their plans to develop housing and other public infrastructure need to re-shape local areas, while our Collida product system and approach to innovative design and construction manufacturing provides a market-leading proposition to ensuring new property is climate change resilient by achieving the level of energy performance associated with Passivhaus standards, in line with the UK’s net zero carbon ambitions.”

Rick concluded, “With the Government planning to improve and streamline public sector procurement of capital projects, we welcomed the introduction of the Construction Playbook. The Playbook’s emphasis on areas such as outturn value not lowest tender price, collaborative behaviour, financial probity, longer term relationships as well as social value and community benefit are all core principles in our ethos.  It places construction at the heart of the ‘build back better’ agenda that will serve as a catalyst for post-pandemic economic growth.”