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Wates Group achieves highest ever turnover at £1.89bn

Wates Group has reported a profit of £33.7m on its highest ever turnover of £1.89bn, up 17 per cent on last year.

The family-owned development, construction and property services company secured £2.8bn of new work during 2022 with a record forward order book of £8.35bn, up 17 per cent from 2021, which was itself a record year for turnover.

Against strong inflationary pressure, interest rate rises and other economic headwinds, Wates rounded out its 125th anniversary year with order book and profit up across every one of its divisions and net assets of £162m. It ended the year with £153m of net cash, with a £90m undrawn bank facility.

During 2022 Wates maintained a strong health and safety performance and its commitment to creating real social value in the communities where it delivers projects. This was the second full year of its five-year social value strategy and the company generated £183m in social value whilst also spending £7.2m with social enterprises. The Group also continued moving toward becoming a net zero operator, continuing to play a key role in upgrading the energy efficiency of the built environment.

Operations across the Group performed strongly. Its construction business won £1.32bn of new work, and turned over £958m, up 24 per cent from last year, with a highest-ever average project size of £43m. This included projects completed during the year such as the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which played host to the swimming events at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and will now benefit the community of Sandwell for decades to come. The business also completed over £100m of work on its largest-ever construction project, the c.£500m Envision AESC Gigafactory in Sunderland, which will make batteries to meet the growth in demand for electric vehicles.

Turnover in the Group’s residential business increased by £42m, taking it to £310m during 2022, a rise of 16 per cent. It marked the year with a number of industry awards for its work with Cardiff Council, providing low-carbon, energy efficient homes, including many built offsite. Meanwhile, the Developments group turned over £123m, up by 15 per cent, and held £148m in invested assets. Its portfolio of development investments in joint ventures performed well and new deals were created through its Partnerships business.

Wates’ property services division increased turnover across its three businesses to £499m, with a forward order book of £1.9bn. It launched the Wates Retrofit offer, providing zero-carbon retrofit services to domestic and commercial properties, and 2022 was the best year yet for specialist fit out and refurbishment business, Smartspace, which retained all its key customers and won or extended places on some of the market’s biggest public and private sector frameworks. One of these is the Ministry of Justice’s Construction Services Framework that will see the company work on projects worth between £5m and £30m. The Group’s facilities management business also went from strength to strength, having its best-ever year, winning new contracts and expanding work with existing customers.

Eoghan O’Lionaird, Chief Executive, Wates Group, said:“These results in our 125th year represent a really strong performance in the context of a challenging economic environment. Each of our divisions have contributed strongly to profitability and I am delighted to see such consistency across the Group.

“2022 saw us continue our upward trajectory on turnover, reaching £1.89bn – the highest in our history. This high figure reflects the strong and stable family governance, hard work of people across the business, the scale of our ambition, our proven capability to manage large scale projects of strategic national significance, and our customers’ confidence in our ability to deliver for them, particularly in the public sector.

We are in a strong, resilient position, with profitability across all our divisions, another record forward order book, and a solid cash balance. These results are a testament to the efforts of everyone at Wates, and my particular thanks go to Philip Wainwright for his sterling performance as Interim Chief Executive. He has left a firm foundation from which I hope to continue growing this remarkable business.”

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