Marshalls PLC First Trading Statement for 2021
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Recent trading has been strong and the improving trend has continued. Group revenue in the four months ended 30 April 2021, was up 46 per cent at £191 million against the same period last year which was impacted by the first UK lockdown (2020: £131 million). This represents an increase of 6 per cent compared with the same four-month period in 2019. The key drivers of this growth have continued to be strong demand in the Domestic end market, improved trading in the Public Sector and Commercial end market and further growth in the International market.
Sales to the Domestic end market, which represented approximately 30 per cent of Group sales were £57 million. This represents an increase of 99 per cent compared with the prior year comparative and is up 20 per cent compared with the same period in 2019. The survey of domestic installers at the end of April 2021 continued to show a healthy order book of 17.2 weeks (2020: 9.4 weeks) compared with 19.4 weeks at the end of February 2021.
Sales to the Public Sector and Commercial end market for the four months ended 30 April 2021 were £122 million and represented 64 per cent of Group sales. This represents an increase of 32 per cent compared with the prior year and a slight increase against the same four-month period in 2019, after adjusting for the impact on sales caused by the planned reduction in Premier Mortar sites in the second quarter of 2020. The Group continues to focus on those areas of the market where higher levels of growth are anticipated. These include infrastructure projects in Road, Rail and Water Management.
Sales in the International business for the four months ended 30 April 2021 increased by 27 per cent compared with 2020 and 32 per cent compared with 2019. This reflects a continuation of the strong performance from Marshalls NV in Belgium.
Balance sheet and liquidity
The Group retains a strong balance sheet supported by a flexible capital structure and maintains good headroom, which will support its investment priorities going forward.
As at 30 April 2021, the Group had net debt of £98 million (2020: £112 million; 2019: £122 million). On a pre-IFRS 16 basis net debt was £52 million (2020: £69 million; 2019: £82 million). This reflects the improved recent trading performance and our continued close monitoring of cash flows.
As previously indicated, the additional short-term bank facilities established in May 2020 have not been utilised, and these have now reached maturity. Bank facilities are now at pre-COVID-19 levels and total £165 million, of which £140 million are committed.
Trading continues to improve and order books are currently strong. The Construction Products Association's recent Spring forecast predicts an increase in UK market volumes of 12.9 per cent in 2021 and 5.2 per cent in 2022. This continues to reflect a more positive trading environment and the external purchasing and consumer confidence indicators continue to strengthen. The Board remains focused on developing future growth opportunities and delivering the strategic objectives set out in the 5-year Strategy, whilst ensuring that operations incorporate health and safety practices that go "over and above" current recommended COVID-19 guidelines.
The Board is encouraged by the sustained increase in demand during the first four months of the financial year and now expects trading for the full year to be ahead of its previous expectations.
Appointment of Non-Executive Director and Board changes
We are delighted to confirm our intention to appoint Avis Darzins to the Board as an additional Non-Executive Director with effect from 1 June 2021. Avis will also join the Audit, Remuneration and Nomination Committees.
Vanda Murray OBE, Chair of the Board, commented: "The Board is delighted that Avis will be joining Marshalls plc as a Non-Executive Director. As previously announced, Janet Ashdown will be stepping down from the Board after our AGM later today, so Avis' appointment is part of our wider succession planning and will broaden the Board's experience. Avis has extensive business transformation and digital experience and will be a valuable addition to the Board."
In addition, Tim Pile will step down as a member of the Audit Committee with immediate effect, Tim continues in his role as a Non-Executive Director on the Board and member of our Remuneration and Nomination Committees .