Large steel specialist makes loss, blaming cost increases

Steel-fabrication specialist William Hare has recorded a pre-tax loss of £2.22m.

The contractor, which is one of the biggest in its sector, saw its profit more than halve in 2020, from £5.3m in 2019 to £2.4m the following year. The latest financial results posted by the group for the year ending 31 December 2021 show that the firm has now entered the red.

It attributed the fall to “significant” increases in steel prices, as well as rises “throughout the cost base”.

William Hare chief executive and chair Susan Hodgkiss reflected on a “challenging year” for the group.

She said: “As the general economy recovered from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the structural steel industry has been subject to significant price increases throughout the cost base.

“In addition, since the balance-sheet date, the industry has experienced further increases in prices for steel and other materials, largely attributable to the war in Ukraine and its impact on global supplies.”

Earlier this month, British Steel hiked the prices for some of its structural steel products by a further £150 per tonne. It was the second increase in as many months, with the Chinese-owned firm saying it had done this because of the “extreme energy price”.

William Hare’s accounts for the year ending December 2021 also showed that its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell to £1.9m, from £6.9m for the previous comparable period a year earlier.

The group’s cash level also dipped, from £24.3m in 2020 to £18.9m in 2021.

However, there was some positive news in the results, with group turnover up by a quarter to reach £239.5m. This represented a recovery from the firm’s previous financial results, which showed that turnover in 2020 had fallen to £191.7m from £203.1m for the same comparable period in 2019.

The group’s order book is looking “extremely strong”, according to the firm, which said further contracts for 2022 have already been awarded.

In March 2020, the company’s then-chief executive, David Hodgkiss, died after contracting COVID-19 at the age of 71. He was the grandson of William Hare, who founded the business in 1945.

The group has been involved in several major UK projects, including the renovation of Battersea Power Station in London and the construction of Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

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