Eric Wright Group has announced its 2022 financial results with an increase in underlying trading profit for the fifth consecutive year. The underlying trading profit, excluding the revaluation of investment properties, increased to £11.9million from £10.2million in the previous year. Turnover also increased to £168million (2021: £163.9million) as the pipeline of projects continues to improve within the contracting businesses.
A highlight in the annual results was a return to profitability for Eric Wright Construction, bucking the trend for the sector which faces ongoing battles with inflation, supply chain risk and interest rate rises which materially impact the viability of development projects. The construction business continues to focus on the management of risk and selection of projects that can be delivered at appropriate margins.
The year saw the disposal of Artis Park, Winsford Industrial Estate, a joint venture development which generated a net income of £3.8million.
The Group’s property portfolio continued to produce strong levels of rental income despite the unrelenting pressures on many tenants. These wider economic conditions and lack of market-based transactions during the year also had a significant adverse impact on property yields, resulting in a revaluation deficit of £4.8million. This consequently impacted the overall profit before tax, reducing it to £7.0million from £15.1million reported in the prior year when the revaluation gain totalled £5.0million.
2022 saw the Group continue to invest in its people, increasing employee numbers to 784 (2021: 691), reflecting its commitment to future growth and the development of its core activities. The Group also made support payments in excess of £800,000 to help its people during an economic situation which showed little respite and saw ongoing pressure from cost of living increases.
Gill Chadwick, Group finance director, commented: “These financial figures represent the steady progress made and continued strength and resilience shown across the Group as we trade out of the Covid era. We have seen a significant £11.7million increase on our balance sheet to £90.6million, which is the stable base from which we will continue to build.
“The Group has performed well and we are especially pleased to see the Construction business back in profit.”
Speaking about Eric Wright Group’s future prospects, Group managing director, Jeremy Hartley added: “The ongoing success of the business is primarily down to the hard work and loyalty of our people, the long-standing relationships and partnerships we have with our clients. This diversity sustains the Group’s resilience, helping us to mitigate exposure to risk and allowing us to concentrate on our strategy for measured and sustainable growth where our returns are either invested back into the business or used to support the charitable work of the Eric Wright Trust across the region.
”There is a powerful synergy between the Trust’s charitable giving and the Group’s social value strategy which is delivered through our day to day activities and we believe this combined approach can have a genuine impact on the people and communities where we work. This is at a time when this wider impact from our businesses activities has never been more important, so we will continue to create our profit with a purpose.
“With our roots firmly in the North West, we look forward to continuing our work across the region, not only through construction, development and infrastructure improvements, but by transforming our communities with flagship regeneration projects in places such as Preston and Burnley.”