RESIZING OUR BUSINESS FOR A DIFFERENT FUTURE
The impact of COVID-19 on Keyline Civils Specialist and the construction industry as a whole has been unprecedented. During this time we have put great emphasis on doing the right thing by our colleagues, customers and our business - for both the immediate and the long term. We have reacted quickly to establish a new operating model - different to anything we have done before, maintained colleagues within our business throughout lockdown and through efficiency savings we have taken action to strengthen our financial resilience - allowing us to navigate what has been one of the most challenging times in Keyline’s history.
We have experienced limited trade as our customers' businesses have been impacted by; closed sites, a slow phased reopening and number of people working on sites and a reduction in customer demand. Forecasts show that the construction market overall will drop 25%-30%, and housing 30%-40% compared to last year. Going forward it is expected that trade will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels for some time, with recovery being measured in months and even years.
The early operational actions we took enabled us to assess the impact on our customers and suppliers, and how we should respond to the challenges of COVID-19. We have taken a great number of cost cutting measures to protect roles and the business as much as we can. From use of the governments furlough scheme, to a recruitment freeze, cuts to discretionary spend and stopping all non-essential spend. We have also, and continue, to take every possible step to keep cash coming into the business - which has helped us to weather the storm in the short-term.In addition, we are working closely with suppliers to manage payment terms and re-negotiating contracts where possible. However, all of these actions alone are not enough.
While business has started to stabilise in recent weeks and there are some early signs of recovery, the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry and our business continues to be significant - the country is now facing recession and the economic outlook remains uncertain. It is now clear that volumes will take several years to return to those seen at the start of the year, and to those required to maintain the current size and shape of our business. In addition our customers have changed the way they interact with us, and we need to adjust our business to ensure we can meet their needs safely both now and in the future. We must now address this, and we have therefore taken the difficult decision to resize our business to secure its long-term health and strengthen our proposition to support our customers in this changing environment.
We plan to close a number of our smaller branches that have been supported in more recent years by the development of larger local civils specialist branches, along with a proposed reduction of headcount. We will now enter into a period of consultation with colleagues impacted by these proposed changes. We will look to retain colleagues wherever possible and we will support impacted colleagues through the process every step of the way.
The magnitude of this situation requires substantial change to ensure that we are in a strong and resilient position to manage the immediate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but to also withstand any longer-term reductions in customer demand and economic instability. Accounts will be reallocated and by maintaining the UK’s widest specialist civils and drainage stock holding and fleet we will continue to grow and maintain the housebuilding part of our business and focus on our growth areas of infrastructure, rail and utilities. Making sure that we are best placed, as the UK’s largest civils and drainage fulfilment partner, to provide our customers with the same high levels of service, support with new ways of working and a world class civils and drainage proposition throughout our nationwide network of branches.
By strengthening the core of our business we ensure that we will be in the best position to respond to the changing UK economy and future of the construction industry. These are not decisions that have been taken lightly, however they are decisions to ensure that Keyline has a strong future supplying the UK’s civils and drainage needs.