This week Jarvis wrote another episode of what one observer called “the longest-running soap opera in construction history”.
Richard Entwistle, chief executive of the rail specialist, announced he would step down in September and the firm dropped £6.3m into the red after being hit by redundancy costs associated with losing 450 people, or 15% of its workforce.
The share price still went up 20%, though (see chart), which probably says more about its troubled past than its short-term prospects. It famously endured the public relations nightmare of the Potters Bar train crash in 2002 as well as various derailment and hitting the
buffers-based headlines after a disastrous foray into PFI schools. This month some of its rail engineers went on strike to protest against their lack of immunity to the wave of compulsory redundancies.
You can see why Entwistle might decide he’s had a bellyful. His relationship with the firm’s only client, Network Rail, has been described by some as “strained”. It can’t have helped that the rail operator asked Jarvis to take on more directly employed staff and then cut its workload by 30%.
The firm will presumably restart its hunt for a buyer when the market stabilises. Although, given its turbulent past, its best bet may be the bargain bin.