Sales fall at buildings materials supplier as pandemic hits home

Sheffield-based building materials specialist, SIG, says its full year like-for-like sales have dropped 13%, though the business says it managed a solid recovery in the second half.

The company, which has today announced its results for the full year ended 31 December 2020, also reports its revenue fell 12.6% from £2,143.0m in 2019 to £1,872.7m in 2020.

SIG recorded an underlying loss before tax of £76.3m (2019: £17.7m profit before tax), with statutory loss before tax from continuing operations of £202.3m (2019: £112.7m loss before tax).

Its report states: “The onset of the pandemic led to a period of temporary lockdown in a number of the markets in which the Group operates, significantly impacting revenue streams during March and April in France, and April and May in the UK and Ireland, in common with the broader construction industry.

“The Group’s operating companies in Germany, Poland and Benelux were also impacted by local government containment measures, although to a lesser extent.

“The material drop in sales volumes across our end markets throughout the first half led to reductions in underlying gross profit margins, principally driven by reduced levels of supplier rebates, and hence reduced profitability.

“To partly offset the adverse impacts, the Group initiated a number of decisive actions that not only reduced its cost base but also supported its liquidity position. Additionally, the Group accessed Government-supported job retention schemes.

“Despite improving conditions, trading continued to be challenging as we moved into the second half of 2020, particularly in UK Distribution, Ireland and Benelux where various levels of local government-imposed trading restrictions were still in force.”

The firm’s outlook says there is still continued uncertainty regarding COVID-19, though it expects a return to profitability and cash generation expected in the second half.

Steve Francis, chief executive officer, said: “Our teams have shown great resilience and commitment in the face of the challenging circumstances for much of the year, the effects of which clearly impacted our first half, and hence full year, results.

“Providing a safe environment and instilling an even greater focus on good health and safety behaviours has been and will remain a major focus of the new management team.

“I am delighted that due to our Return to Growth strategy we delivered a solid second half and have begun to return the business to growth after a long period of decline.

“On behalf of the whole Board I would like to thank all our employees for their significant efforts, and successes, during the year.”