Construction and Infrastructure

Turnover and profits up at major county construction firm – but the spectre of covid hovers

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 18 June 2020 8:22

Turnover and profits up at major county construction firm – but the spectre of covid hovers

Turnover rose to more than £26 million at one of Gloucestershire’s biggest family businesses and electrical contractors – with the firm declaring it is well-positioned to ride-out the pandemic. 

Cheltenham-based CF Roberts, which employs an estimated 250 staff, saw turnover increase from £26.38m to £28.82m. 

Operating profits at the Kingsditch-headquartered business rose from £246,081 to £515,895 and profit for the financial year was up from £245,723 to £521,484. 

Nevertheless, a substantial amount of the annual report by the business – a leader in its field in electrical and mechanical design, installation and maintenance services – was dominated by the impact of covid-19. 

Brexit is also mentioned as the other “main risk factors” over the next 12 months. 

"The pandemic outbreak of covid-19 in 202 has had a significant impact with the majority of our industry, resulting in temporary closures and furloughing of staff,” said Matthew Thompson, director, CF Roberts, in the firm’s latest annual report to the year ending October 2019. 

It means, he said, the company, in business since 1935 and a firm committed to apprentices, “would not operate at the same level as previously in the short term”. 

“Supply chains have been severely affected and we have significantly scaled back out operations, temporarily and furloughed a number of the operational staff. 

"Staff costs are significant proportion of our fixed cost base therefore the directors will utilise the support measures made available by the UK government to trade through the situation. 

“The company will utilise the job retention scheme to cover the cost of staff furloughed and other government measures (such as VAT deferment) will be utilised where necessary.” 

The sense of the unknown is obvious, but the company’s nerves remainsteady. The report points out it does business with “high profile customers who have strong credit ratings”. 

"The overall impact of covid-19 is currently very difficult to predict and given the high levels of uncertainly it is not possible to at resent estimated the overall potential impact on the company. 

“However, the directors believe the company's financial resources supported by the utilisation of the job retention scheme and other government measures will be sufficient to trade through the current situation.” 

CF Roberts has been involved in such high-profile projects as Cheltenham Racecourse and St James’s Place’s head office in Cirencester to Slough Crematorium