Around 1,700 have been made redundant in past two years

The number of staff who left Kier’s UK’s business last year topped 3,500 meaning it employed over 20% fewer people at the arm compared to the 12 months before, the firm’s latest report and accounts reveal.

In all, just over 3,600 people left the company in its 2019/20 financial year with 3,508 coming from its UK arm. Just over 100 left from its overseas operations with this part of the business now employing 1,585 people.

andrew davies

Traditionally the country’s second biggest contractor by turnover, Kier now has 15,169 staff on its books compared to 18,778 the year before.

Its UK arm employs 13,584, down from just over 17,000 the year before, and which is a fall of nearly 25% on the 18,064 it employed in the UK in 2017/18.

And the number of staff employed across the group during the two year period between 2018 and 2020 has fallen by 24% from 20,064 it had in 2017/18.

Kier said 1,700 of the leavers in the past two years were redundancies with the firm spending £29.5m on redundancy costs last year, which came on top of the £38.4m it shelled out in 2018/19.

Its wage bill in 2019/20 stood at £618.6m – a fall of 19% on the previous year’s figure of £766.8m.

The figures underline the scale of the restructuring that has gone on since Andrew Davies took up the chief executive’s role last April.

Within weeks he had announced a root and branch overhaul of the business to get the firm’s crippling debt down.

An initial 1,200 staff were set to lose their jobs by June this year but last month the firm revealed the axe had fallen on an extra 500 roles.

As part of the restructuring, firm has also been steadily pulling out of non-core businesses such as environmental services while it has also outsourced its IT and fleet operations, trimming its wage bill even further. A number of roles have gone through natural wastage.

Davies (pictured) told analysts last month that the staff cuts would produce annual savings of £100m from next June.

The accounts also reveal how much Kier is hoping to get for its up-for-sale housing arm Kier Living.

It said it valued the business at £110m, a fall of just over £51m on the previous estimate which it said it was taking as an impairment. It said it had revised the value down “due to the uncertainties in the market resulting from covid-19”.

Last month Davies said he expected the sale, which has been going on since June last year, to be wrapped up in the next six to 12 months.

According to the latest report and accounts of the country’s biggest contractor, Balfour Beatty, the firm had 19,200 on its books last year – a fall of 3% on the 2018 number.

And in its latest report and accounts, the country’s biggest private contractor, Laing O’Rourke, had 12,685 staff as of March 2019 – a fall of less than 1% – with numbers at its Europe hub flat at 10,700.