Houlton are back in the black, having recovered from a £533,000 loss to deliver a strong profit on lower turnover.

Despite trading for over 142 years Houlton were hit by an unprecedented and significant bad debt compounded by Covid-related hold-ups as the pandemic bit as the 2019/20 financial year closed.

Now, despite revenues falling more than 20 per cent from £50.3 million to £39.4 million, it has returned a profit of £966,535.

Paul Dickerson, director, and chairman said “the company is on track for a strong performance in 2022” despite the continuing impact from coronavirus and trade and economic effects of Brexit.

“The company's activity levels remain strong against a backdrop of difficult market conditions, a positive sign reflecting the continued efforts and quality of our workforce,” he said in the strategic report accompanying the results. “We continue our long-standing relationships with clients on projects of varying sizes and locations across the region, and are well positioned for future challenges.

“Coronavirus impacted the financial year with delays in commencing new projects, plus impacting productivity and material supplies and profits. The company has pulled through the worst of the pandemic and national lockdowns, and has managed to trade successfully whilst ensuring the continued health and wellbeing of its employees, clients and members of the public.”

Sites closed as the first lockdown hit, with companies gradually opening up as measures were implemented and government advice was made clear.

A strategic review and consolidation programme helped improve operating profits along with renewed focus on risk management for current and future contracts.

The Chairman added: “End of the year the company has secured a forward order book in excess of £22 million in both public and private sectors, with a strong pipeline of future opportunities and carries renewed positive momentum as it heads into 2022.”

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