Tolent Weather Storm with £1bn Pipeline

Paul Webster, CEO, Tolent

The Gateshead-based contractor recently published its financial accounts for 2021, with a 7% increase in group turnover to £197.9m, the highest since its incorporation. In particular, the group’s housing division has seen the biggest rise growing by more than 40% in 2021 with a turnover of £66.2m.

The group recorded a £4.0m loss in the period which has been attributed to a perfect storm of adverse trading conditions affecting the entire sector with impacts felt from the pandemic, a bad debt, a loss-making contract and the overall macro-economic environment.

Despite recent losses, the underlying business remains profitable with the firm in a robust financial position with management accounts for the current year to date showing the company returning to profitability indicating that the organisation, that employs 400+ staff across the North East and Yorkshire, have weathered the recent economic storm.

The uptick in performance has coincided with some strategic changes to the main board which saw Paul Webster move from his position as chief operating officer to chief executive officer and Mark Overton joining the organisation as chief financial officer following over a decade at Colas.

Mark Overton, Chief Financial Officer at Tolent, said: “We have worked hard over the last 6 months to financially strengthen the business and increase working capital which has included the renegotiation of our finance facility, a rights issues which raised £3.7m in new share capital and an £8m cash injection following the completion of a land deal which will soon become South Seaham Garden Village.”

The group has also been exposed to the repercussions surrounding a large number of developers, contractors and supply chain partners that fell into administration during this period. Following the demise of High Street Group in 2022, Tolent was named amongst the company’s creditors listed in the administration document which resulted in a bad debt of £2.1m.

Paul Webster, Chief Executive Officer at Tolent, said: “Our priority moving forward is to secure a sustainable profit, working with trusted clients as we continue to increase our workload within the public sector. We are focused on consolidating our position within the North East and Yorkshire and will continue to deliver some of the flagship projects we have become known for.

“Naturally with the increasing pressures on wage inflation, material prices and availability we have to be cautious in our approach to winning new work, however, we have a strong and identified pipeline of just under £1bn across a variety of sectors that provides us with the confidence to be cautiously optimistic for our business over the next few years.”

Tolent has recently announced their involvement in a number of local, flagship projects including Vaux Neighbourhood Housing, an ultra-sustainable development providing 135 homes in Sunderland city centre, and South Seaham Garden Village. Construction of the garden village will commence in 2022 and see the firm build 750 homes over a 10-year period.
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