Headwinds during the year included a slowdown in the commercial build pipeline due to the destabilising impact of the EU Referendum and Government policy towards affordable housing impacting that market. Those challenges eased into the final quarter of the year, and together with increased bid opportunities, we expect to show improvement in 2017.
During the 12 months to the end of December the construction firm began a multi-million pound investment in “Project Gateway” – a far-reaching systems and technology project designed to streamline Esh’s business processes and establish solid foundations for future growth.
Restructuring of Esh’s operations across Yorkshire, the North West and Scotland, including changes to senior management, was also intended to enhance the firm’s strong market position.
At home, the firm’s Bowburn headquarters was extended – including the building of extra office space, new facilities to house the company’s training academy and rental premises aimed at SME and start up businesses.
During the Group’s annual shareholders’ meeting, shareholders were told turnover for the year was £242.7m, down from £275.5m, with that reduction being the product of deliberate action by the management team to provide the breathing space to implement these fundamental changes.
Profit before tax was £3.8m, from £8.6m in 2015, which in part is a reflection of the considerable investment being made in the business.
Andy Radcliffe, who took over as Esh Group chief executive in April said: “There’s no doubt that 2016 was a year of consolidation for Esh Group.
“We have a very strong underlying business – from a cash and balance sheet position – and our focus is on maintaining that advantage, through working smarter and providing more value and better service to our clients.
“That’s why we’ve taken the opportunity to invest in Project Gateway – a significant move for Esh that will transform our organisation and make us easier to do business with.”
Project Gateway, which is due to be launched in the first quarter of 2018, will use Oracle Fusion software to better integrate all of our core business processes, providing a more streamlined, end to end operating system.
The project involves the full-time secondment of 20 Esh Group staff who, along with support teams from Oracle/Inoapps and also KPMG, are busy defining new processes and ways of working, as well as planning and coordinating the significant change and implementation programme.
Following Esh’s rapid growth over the last 20 years, the investment is intended to make sure that systems and processes, which have formed organically, are capable of supporting future growth.
Esh also had to contend with economic factors impacting the construction market overall in 2016.
Esh’s longstanding commitment to support communities also meant 2016 was full of activity for its Added Value team.
The Esh Communities scheme gave more than £40,000 to 50 charities, social enterprises and community groups across the North East, North West, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland.
And the Group’s flagship employability skills scheme – Building My Skills – delivered more than 55,000 student engagement hours.
During 2016 Esh also enrolled its 150th apprentice – welcoming Megan Lambert as apprentice Quantity Surveyor.