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Walkie Talkie concrete contractor PC Harrington cuts jobs

Walkie Talkie concrete contractor PC Harrington cut its losses in 2011 by shedding at least 115 jobs and slicing its wage bill to half of what it was two years ago.

The concrete specialist reduced its wage bill to £12.25 million in the year to 31 May 2011, down from £23m two years ago and down a quarter on 2010’s £15.93m total. A large part of this came from cost savings in tower crane and hoist hire business HTC Plant.

According to group accounts for the year to 31 May 2011, the group suffered a loss of £160,000, down from a £2m loss the year before. It saw revenue tumble for the fourth consecutive year, down 16 per cent on 2010, from £84m to £70m.

Three years ago PC Harrington - whose other big projects have included Wembley Stadium - recorded £12.7m of profit on £202m of revenue and said it was investing in workforce and plant.

This year, directors – including chairman and founder Pat Harrington – said the worldwide economic downturn and political uncertainty has had a “dramatic impact on the volume of sales”. Mr Harrington took no dividend in 2011, compared with a £1.5m payment in 2010.

Repeating last year’s comments word-for-word, they said:  “The group has acted swiftly in reducing costs in line with the reduced volumes of work and unfortunately had to make a number of redundancies as a result.”

They added: “A major focus during the period under review has been the completion of a comprehensive efficiency review to remove excess capacity, whilst ensuring that the company is best positioned to respond to a change in market conditions and client demands.

“The group is confident that these results mark the bottom of the curve, where steps have been taken to respond to the trading conditions during 2011/12.”

HTC Plant saw employee numbers fall from 261 to 206, predominantly in operations and including five in management or administrative roles. The wage bill went down from £10.3m to £7.76m.  The business made a £1.3m loss and saw a slight drop in revenue to £13.4m.

PC Harrington Contractors’ accounts states that all labour was hired in from Formwork. PC Harrington Formwork - specialists in design and construction of reinforced concrete structures - saw employee numbers go down from 249 to 187, but wages and salaries rose from £6.97m to £7.17m.  It provided £15.4m of labour services to the group. Formwork made a £33,000 profit on £15.4m of revenue.

PC Harrington Management Services, which provided £1.15m of services to the group, entered voluntary liquidation at the end of 2011, according to Companies House. Abbreviated accounts were filed for Slipform International, Structural Systems and P and E Harrington Plant Hire.

Turnover in the Middle East increased by 5.8 per cent to £2m, representing less than 3 per cent of total revenue.  The UK provided nearly £68m of sales.

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