Van Elle announce new CEO with trading update

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Van Elle, the Nottinghamshire geotechnical contractor offering a wide range of ground engineering techniques and services to a variety of UK construction end markets, has announced that Mark Cutler will join the Board and succeed Jon Fenton as Chief Executive Officer.

Mark Lloyd Cutler joins Van Elle from Balfour Beatty PLC where he was previously Managing Director of the UK regional construction and engineering businesses and recently Managing Director of the Balfour Beatty VINCI joint venture, with responsibility for the High Speed 2 programme.

From 2010 to 2014 Mark was Chief Executive at Barhale Construction, one of the UK’s largest privately-owned infrastructure specialists working across the water, transport and energy sectors. Mark joined Barhale, from Morgan Est (2006-2010), the infrastructure arm of Morgan Sindall Group, where he was Managing Director. Mark’s early career (1990-2006) was at the Tarmac/Carillion Group.

Jon Fenton will be leaving due to a serious medical matter within his close family. In order to help support Van Elle ahead of Mark’s arrival, the Company has engaged Stephen Christopher Prendergast, aged 62, a highly experienced interim manager, in the role of acting Chief Executive Officer, reporting into the Board.

Steve has been undertaking interim management roles for the last 13 years which have included assignments for ISG, Balfour Beatty, Amey and Network Rail. Steve has significant sector experience having also previously held executive roles at Costain PLC and Amec PLC. Jon will remain available to Steve and the Company as a consultant to help ensure a smooth transition period.

Adrian Barden, Chairman, commented: “We wish Jon and his family well for the future, and thank him for his contribution to the Company over the past eight years, including the successful IPO in 2016.

“We are delighted that Mark is joining Van Elle. He is highly regarded across the industry and will be bringing with him a wealth of valuable experience across all our major sectors, especially in rail and housing where we have many opportunities to build on our already strong market positions. Ensuring a smooth leadership transition process has been a key focus of the Board and we are pleased that Steve will be able to step in to support the management team over the next few months.

“Whilst market conditions have been less supportive in the second half, the team has worked hard to continue to win work and deliver this effectively. We continue to progress our strategic initiatives and believe that these have positioned the Group well for the future.”

This news follows a trading update for the year ended 30 April 2018. 

Following a good overall performance in the first half of the year, adverse weather contributed to more challenging market conditions since January.

The Group has also been engaged with Carillion’s advisers to determine the status and intentions regarding existing and anticipated projects where Carillion were acting as contractor and on which the Group was, or anticipated to be, engaged as sub-contractor.

Van Elle reports it was able to agree satisfactory terms to recommence work on some Carillion contracts during the fourth quarter. The Rail operating unit has seen a strong second half, continuing to win work and delivering a better operating performance. Combined with a solid performance from Restricted Access, this led to an encouraging performance in the Specialist Piling Division in the second half.

Having reported a very strong first half performance, revenues and margins in the General Piling Division have been lower in the second half reflecting the slightly slower market.

The Ground Engineering Services division had a challenging second half, and in Ground Engineering Products, the Group’s proprietary Smartfoot® foundation system has continued to gain share in the market and delivered encouraging year-on-year growth in the second half in spite of some weather disruption.

The Group now anticipates reporting a lower than previously expected exceptional bad debt charge of approximately £1.0 million (rather than £1.6 million). Despite the bad debt charge and the poor performance of Ground Engineering Services in the second half, cash generation across the Group in general has continued to be strong and provides an ongoing platform to support Van Elle’s strategic initiatives.

Van Elle currently expects to report overall adjusted profit before taxation for the year ended 30 April 2018 of approximately £10.5 million.