Colemans sees sharp drop in profit despite turnover increase

Profit has fallen by nearly £2m at demolition contractor Colemans.

The firm’s latest accounts, for the year to 30 April 2023, show its pre-tax profit fell to £268,000 from £2.5m in the prior year.

Turnover stood at over £12.98m in its latest year, up by 10.6 per cent from £11.73m previously.

The Birmingham-based specialist, formerly known as Coleman Group and parent company of Coleman & Company – also now rebranded as ‘Colemans’ – did not give a detailed explanation for the drop in its bottom line.

However, its accounts show that the firm generated £1.6m through asset disposals in 2022, compared with almost nothing in its latest year.

A statement with the accounts said: “Given the existing pipeline of work, the directors consider the current profit margin to be sustainable.”

The company has shrunk considerably in size since 2020, when it announced plans to make half its workforce redundant after being hit by the impact of lockdown and a cancelled shopping-centre job. At the time it turned over £25m, but said it foresaw this dropping to between £12m-£15m annually in future. In 2015 its revenue stood at £30.3m.

Later in 2020 it said it would turn to asset sales in order to generate working capital.

In its new accounts, Colemans highlighted that it has no borrowings and has the lowest debt-to-earnings ratio of any UK demolition contractor.

The firm changed its brand name during the 2022/23 financial year, as part of a celebration of the 60th anniversary of its incorporation.

In February 2016, four of its employees – Michael Collings, Chris Huxtable, Ken Cresswell and John Shaw – died in the Didcot Power Station collapse. Five others were injured.

More than seven years on from the incident, the joint police and Health and Safety Executive investigation continues.

Colemans said in its latest accounts: “The company continues to cooperate fully with all involved. Based upon rigorous inquiries undertaken by independent specialists and on professional advice, the directors do not believe the company is responsible for the cause of the incident.

“It is totally impracticable for the directors to provide any estimate of the financial liability, if any, arising from the matter, and the likely timescale for it to be settled. However, the directors are confident that comprehensive insurance arrangements, with adequate limits of indemnity, exist to cover the financial consequences should any liability attach.”

In February, Construction News highlighted the impact that the wait for answers has had on the families and ex-colleagues of those who died and the lack of lessons that the industry has been able to take from it to ensure it is operating safely now.

Later in the year, Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham (where Cresswell and Shaw were from), told CN that issues around the collapse had been “kicked into the long grass”.

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