North East developer Esh Group is aiming to boost its profile beyond the North East after growing turnover by 10% to £192.5m.
The Durham-based business, which develops commercial and residential properties, presented its results for the year ended December 2013 at its annual shareholders meeting, held at the Emirates Durham ICG in Chester–le-Street, where directors demonstrated a buoyant year.
The 1,100-employee group posted pre-tax profits of £3.2m, a significant improvement on the previous period’s £600,000, and cash reserves held at the year-end were a healthy £27.6m.
Formed as Esh Holdings in 1999, the firm has long provided construction and construction related services through its extensive Northumberland Durham, Yorkshire and Humberside operations, and continued to increase revenues during the recession.
And the firm, which now comprises 20 brands, said the acquisition of Border Construction – now rebranded Esh Border Construction – opens the door on new opportunities further afield, which it predicts will boost turnover significantly in the future.
The buyout increased staffing levels by 150, including around 60 workers in Scotland, and means the firm now has offices in Carlisle and Kendal in Cumbria and Earlston in Scotland, where chief executive Brian Manning said the firm will focus their attention in a bid to raise brand awareness.
Mr Manning said: “This time last year we reported Esh Group to be in really good shape and we have continued to show this is the case.
“Our diverse product range delivers quality through brands which are well-recognised across the North East and our aim is now to replicate the breadth and quality of these services across the greater North and Scotland from our existing bases in Yorkshire and Cumbria and those newly acquired through the addition of Esh Border Construction to the group.
“We have now been working beyond the North East for seven years and this year we have strengthened our presence in other regions by investing in regional structures to ensure our delivery is consistent.
“We’re now six months on since the acquisition of Border Construction, the new brand boards are up and the integration is coming along – people are very responsive and very hard working.”
“The North East is our heartland and that’s where we come from and we’re still looking for growth in the region. But if we’re to get larger growth we need to look at the areas where we are relatively new, in Scotland and Cumbria.
“And who knows, there may be more opportunities in Scotland – these are interesting times. While the vote was ‘no’ it’s still a vote for change and with our Borders operation we are nicely placed for opportunities it brings.”
During the financial year Esh Group has continued to work alongside other regional construction companies in order to communicate the disparities of public procurement processes.
Mr Manning said: “Substantial challenges still exist in the area of public procurement where we continue to fight the cause for both ourselves and regional contractors in general.”
The chief executive said results reflected losses within the Dunelm Homes development business, but that current financial year figures are increasing rapidly, buoyed by increased activity within construction.
He said: “We’re now well into 2014 and are seeing improvements in development as well as increased activity in contracting across all areas. We’re predicting another year of strong performance, with turnover getting over £200m and possibly looking at £250m.
“Whilst materials and skill shortages present occasional barriers we are well served and supported by our excellent relationships with suppliers and subcontractors which are underpinned by our long term relationships and sensible payment terms.
“In respect of the skills shortage, we are investing heavily in young people and are up-skilling our existing loyal, hard-working employees.
“We place real care and attention on working closely with communities and it is extremely important to us that we continue to work closely with our many partners.”
Austin Donohoe, chairman of Esh Group added: “We are confident that, despite some challenges, our solid foundations combined with our robust strategic plans for growth will enable Esh Group to continue to consolidate its position and flourish for the benefit of our customers, staff and shareholders and for the communities in which we work.”