Contractor says rising costs hit bottom line

The country’s second biggest steelwork contractor slipped into the red last year as price increases took their toll on William Hare’s bottom line.

The firm, which is behind only Severfield in terms of income, posted a pre-tax loss of £2.2m from a pre-tax profit of £2.4m last time.

Hare, which has recently carried out work on the Factory arts scheme in Manchester being built by Laing O’Rourke as well as Mace’s Paddington Square office block in London, said turnover in 2021 was up a quarter to £240m.

_Renzo Piano Paddington Cube in July 2021 (7)

Hare worked on Mace’s Paddington Square scheme, also known as the Paddington Cube

But the firm said “significant prices increase throughout the cost base” helped drag it into the red, adding that the war in Ukraine had heaped more increases onto costs. The firm’s net cash at the year end was £19m, down from £24m in 2020 while staff numbers remained flat at 1,761.

It said its order book was “extremely strong” and added: “It is encouraging that quality projects continue to come to the market and the array of opportunities remain.”

Meanwhile, listed steel firm Billington said income climbed 22% to £46m in the six months to June with the firm seeing pre-tax profit jump 71% to £1.3m.

Chief executive Mark Smith said: “Whilst macroeconomic headwinds are likely to remain for some time, particularly with regard to material availability, price volatility and continuing inflationary pressures, we are seeing a consistent stream of opportunities at better margins.”

Smith said he now expected the firm, which posted an £83m turnover last year and pre-tax profit of just £200,000, to beat market forecasts for its full year results.