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Forterra profit boosted by housebuilding boom

Brickmaker Forterra has reported a rise in annual profit and sales and is positive on current trading due to “strong activity” from housebuilders. 

The UK’s second-biggest brick manufacturer, which floated on the London Stock Exchange last April, said pre-tax profit before exceptionals rose 3.8 per cent to £54.3m in the year to 31 December. Its bottom line was helped by “good control of cost base and overheads”, the company said. 

Revenue in the period climbed 1.5 per cent to £294.5m, helped by a strong second-half performance as sales to housebuilders ticked up.

Chief executive Stephen Harrison said today: “Our first annual results as a listed company show good progress in the delivery of our strategy.”

Mr Harrison said 2017 had “started well” for the group with “brick volumes for the first two months ahead of last year”.

He added: “The group continues to see strong activity levels from the major housebuilders and positive indications from these customers for at least the first half of the year.

“It appears that the destocking in the builders merchants’ supply chain is now largely complete.” 

Forterra, formerly the UK building products division of Hanson, employs around 1,600 staff across 18 factories. It makes clay bricks and aircrete blocks, including fletton red bricks.

Last July, the firm said it was considering mothballing two of its Lancashire plants– in Accrington and Claughton – due to “economic uncertainty”.

Forterra said today that kilns at the two facilities were turned off last summer to allow “higher utilisation” at other factories.

At Claughton, the kiln will be relit this summer following a move to replace the dryers to boost efficiency and add capacity, Forterra said.

Construction News understands that the Accrington facility is operating again but its future will be reviewed in the next few months. 

Shares in the group today edged up 0.6 per cent in mid-morning trading.

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