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Miller cuts its losses to £58m

Private housebuilder and construction group Miller has reduced its losses to £58 million after improved performance in three of its four divisions.

The company is gradually turning the tide after three years of difficult trading that have seen turnover tumble from £1.05 billion in 2008 to £738m in 2009 and £666m last year.

Losses have fallen from a 2008 high of £170m to £58m last year, a 20 per cent improvement on 2009’s performance and largely down to lower exceptional costs from reducing staff numbers.

Net debt is also down by £170m, standing at approximately £500m. And the company is currently in the process of refinancing, with an announcement expected in the coming months.

Group chief executive Keith Miller told Construction News that property, construction and mining were all back in profit and housebuilding was making good progress.

He said: “We are looking for a big improvement in our housebuilding business this year but the construction business has resized itself well in the last couple of years and the start of the year has been very encouraging.

“Overall we are pretty well on track and probably ahead of where we thought we would be at this stage.”

Mr Miller said 2011 was off to a strong start with housing visitor levels 18 per cent ahead of 2010 levels and 14 new sites due to open during the year.

Housing volumes were down 7 per cent in 2010 at 1,915 units but prices increased 5 per cent to £168,000 thanks to a change in mix towards family housing and the company has recommenced investment in its land bank across the UK.

Construction turnover fell from £409m in 2009 to £293m last year and the company is now targeting more partnerships and framework agreements.

Mr Miller said he expected the first ProCure 21 + jobs to be secured within the next six months.

It is targeting Defence Estates Next Generation contracts and continues to secure work through Leicestershire Building Schools for the Future, reaching financial close of £40m of work since January.

Recent contract wins include:

  • Apple Store Braehead Shopping Centre £2m  Contract to alter an existing retail unit at Braehead Shopping Centre for a new Apple Store .
  • Overton Primary School £3.8m - New build primary school for Inverclyde Council (traditionally funded). Works commenced in February and will complete in September 2011
  • Plots B & F Euro Central £7.3m - Design and construction of 228,000 sq ft of speculative warehouses at Euro Central in Lanarkshire for Muse Developments
  • £2M Stoke Primaries – Extensions to two primary schools for Stoke City Council. Both expected to complete October 2011
  • £3m Preston College – Works commenced February 2011 with August 2011 completion

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