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James Burrell successfully navigates year of Covid uncertainty

Yorkshire and North East independent builders’ merchant James Burrell has had a strong start to 2021 following an upbeat trading performance and strengthening of its balance sheet, shown by its newly filed accounts for the year to October 2020.

Despite the impact of nationally imposed restrictions during the first lockdown in spring 2020, turnover at the 144 year old business reduced by only 5% to £68m. Both operating profit and profit before tax saw similar percentage falls of 5% in the year.

Managing director Mark Richardson said: “We are delighted with the outcome for the year. Helped by strong and clear guidance from our Health and Safety team, our workforce rose to the challenge in the face of an unprecedented situation. There was an exceptional response across our sales teams in helping new and old customers manage through a somewhat erratic supply chain environment in a Covid safe manner”.

Careful cash management under difficult trading conditions has ensured the working capital position is more robust with a reduction in borrowings of over £1m achieved in the year.

The company continues to take its corporate responsibility seriously to reduce its carbon footprint. Once again FORS (Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme) bronze standard was achieved and silver status is being actively pursued for 2021 / 22 with further investment in staff training and transport infrastructure. This will see the entire wagon fleet being the most environmentally friendly Euro 6 rated by the end of calendar year 2021.

Richardson added: “Builders’ merchants are current experiencing very strong demand across their entire product range and with no apparent indications of easing off any time soon. It speaks volumes for the efforts of our purchasing and logistics team at present to source and supply materials to match current sales performance levels in the face of the supply chain challenges faced at present”

The focus for the business is now firmly fixed on continuing on an upward trajectory in 2021.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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