TopHat MD announces departure

TopHat managing director Andrew Shepherd is to leave the troubled modular housebuilder, it has emerged.

The former Laing O’Rourke chief posted on professional networking site LinkedIn that he would be “moving on to a new challenge”.

TopHat announced in February that it was consulting on up to 70 job cuts, as it sought to trim costs in a “challenging market”.

A few weeks later, the Derby-based firm said it had halted work on a flagship 60,000 square metre manufacturing site in the South Midlands, citing “market conditions”.

Shepherd, who joined TopHat in October 2020, said on LinkedIn that this would be his last week in post.

“After a roller-coaster near-four years in the world of modular housebuilding, I will be moving on to a new challenge,” he wrote.

“I wish my colleagues all the best moving forward and would like to express my personal gratitude for all their hard work and dedication. The team has achieved so much under some, let’s be honest, challenging circumstances.”

He added: “I look forward to sharing some news on my next challenge in due course.”

A spokesperson for TopHat said that last year was “challenging” for the housing sector, as rampant inflation coincided with post-pandemic supply chain disruption.

“As a newer industry, [the] modern methods of construction [sector] has been hit harder still,” they added.

“Despite the growing understanding that volumetric modular is a key part of the solution to the housing crisis, we can’t yet see signs of the market coming back and have needed to take prudent action to ensure the business remains healthy, protected and ready for the upturn when it comes.

“This has meant some scaling back, and some personnel losses in this period of restructuring.”

TopHat recorded a £5.1m pre-tax loss in its most recent accounts for the year to 31 October 2022.

The firm admitted it was “not yet profitable or cash-generative” because of its “investment in future growth and innovation”.

The company agreed a £15m debt facility with the affordable-housing government agency Homes England in November, after raising £70m from investors including Persimmon, Aviva and Goldman Sachs in a funding round last April.

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