Results 2020 : Chairman’s Statement
24/3/21 : In common with many businesses throughout the UK, TClarke faced significant and unprecedented challenges in 2020. It is therefore particularly pleasing that TClarke has remained profitable and our average daily net cash balance was positive throughout 2020. It is also a year in which emerging opportunities for top line growth allows us to announce a three year plan to deliver £500m of revenue whilst maintaining our margins.
We delivered our underlying operating margin target of 3% in the first quarter and in the second half of the year. In the second quarter, at the height of the national lockdown, we achieved a breakeven performance at the operating level, which was an outstanding performance given the significant impact this had on our sector through site closures and major client driven project delays and reschedules.
Swift and effective management responses and actions in response to the pandemic have positioned us strongly for the future. Our forward order book stands at a record £456m, an increase of 13% on the year. This increase is not represented by work delayed from 2020. It results from new projects, many from existing clients who value our stability, our relationship with them, and our proven ability to deliver quality.
Our strategy of strengthening our core Engineering Services markets while building and developing our capabilities in key areas of technology and infrastructure is succeeding. This was a major factor in our 2020 performance. Importantly, however, it puts us in a very strong position as we move into 2021 and beyond.
TClarke is very aware of the importance of our dividend stream to shareholders and investors. We continue to be fully committed to a progressive dividend policy and continue to focus on our ability to ensure dividend streams are maintained, while at the same time balancing the needs and interests of all stakeholders. We fully maintained our final and interim dividend payments in 2020 and we are proposing a 2020 final dividend of 3.65p per share – maintaining our 2019 dividend level.
It is particularly important that we continue to grow and develop the skills of all our people. Our people are our future. It is heartening to note the leadership’s continued support for 199 apprentices across the Group and the decision to welcome a new cohort of apprentices during summer 2020. These are not small investments – but they are made with long-term belief in our company.
As I look forward into 2021 and beyond, I am optimistic. TClarke is very strongly placed to continue to grow and deliver outstanding performance and results. This comes from the success of its strategies and deliveries, the quality of its products, services and methods, and from the strength and depth of its client relationships.
However, the biggest strength and asset we have as we move forward is our people. Their outstanding achievements this year have allowed us to take a positive stance and deliver as a business, and I want to thank them all for their professionalism and hard work during the period.
24th March 2021