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Coleman eyes recovery after Didcot collapse

8 February 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Demolition contractor Coleman Group, the company at the centre of the Didcot Power Station collapse three years ago, is upbeat about business prospects despite posting a £1.37m loss.

The firm said a ‘perfect storm’ of the deferral of two major contracts, Brexit uncertainty, and ongoing legacy issues following the Didcot accident pushed it into a £1.37m loss.

Last year, Coleman said it had a "clear" understanding of the causes of the collapse in February 2016, which killed four people. Investigations are continuing.

Meanwhile, the company has predicted a return to profit this financial year. The group’s main trading subsidiary, Coleman & Company, made a loss after tax of £1.37m for the year ended 30 April 2018, while turnover fell to £15.1m, down from £26.7m the year before in what it said was one of the most difficult trading periods in its 56-year history.

It blamed the deferral of two unidentified contracts worth £11m to 2019 and a £349,000 one-off cost in respect of the Didcot contract. Four workers were killed at the power station during demolition work in 2016, when the plant partially collapsed. No verdict has yet been reached in the ongoing joint investigation into the accident by Thames Valley Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Meanwhile, the incorrect valuation of work in progress and sales reserves in Coleman Remediation Services was reflected in a trading loss of £611,456 for the subsidiary.

A problem with a single contract in the Cutting Services subsidiary also resulted in a £434,776 loss.

Overall the parent company CNC Group Holdings Limited has filed a trading loss after tax of £2.44m, compared to a profit of £1.25m in 2017. It is only the second loss recorded in the company’s 56-year history, the previous coming in 2008/9 after the global financial crash.

But chief executive Mark Coleman said the closure of a loss-making recycling facility, a top-to-bottom restructure which removed £600,000 in overheads, and the disposal of, largely redundant, specialist assets had helped the company turn the corner.

Coleman said: “The trading losses have been stemmed and the business is on track to return to profitability for the year – a very credible performance given the perfect storm faced over the preceding 12 months.

“The cost-saving measures and restructuring will underpin the return to profits. The business is now better equipped to deal with both risk and opportunities as they arise and, with Net Assets of £7.2 million despite a poor year, the Group remains financially strong.”

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