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SIG expecting challenging year ahead

SIG has said the outlook for next 12 months remains challenging with the prospects for recovery in construction “unclear in respect of both timing and degree”.

In a trading update for the year ended 31 December 2009 SIG said exceptionally challenging market conditions persisted throughout 2009, with significantly reduced construction activity and the demand for the products and services supplied by SIG.

But the tough year aside, SIG still expects to report a pre-tax profit in the region of £60 million on turnover of around £2.74 billion, roughly 10 per cent down on 2008’s £3.05 billion.

In April 2009 SIG raised £325 million rights issue. The proceeds have been used to reduce the overall level of net debt, which has fallen from £697 million at 31 December 2008 to around £260 million at 31 December 2009.

The trading update said: “As a result of the group’s restructuring measures undertaken to improve long-term operational efficiency together with the reduction in its fixed cost base and its significantly strengthened balance sheet, SIG is in good shape to deal both with the likelihood of a number of its end markets continuing to weaken in the coming months and to take advantage of their subsequent later recovery and of any growth opportunities which may emerge.

“In the meantime, management remains resolutely focused on customer service, driving operational efficiencies and cash generation.”

The firm also announced that senior independent director David Haxby will retire at the conclusion of the Company’s Annual General Meeting on 13 May 2010, having served as a non-executive director since 2003.

His retirement follows the handover of his chairmanship of the audit committee to Jonathan Nicholls in November 2009.