The Wates Group has announced a programme of redundancies that will reduce staff numbers by approximately 300 (or 8%) as it continues to respond to the impact of the coronavirus.
The 123-year-old privately-owned construction, property services and development company had previously reported increased annual turnover of £1.65bn, increased pre-tax profits of £36.2m and increased cash reserves of £142.2m for the year ending 31 December 2019.
But, signalling the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the industry and forcing many to rethink even the most carefully prepared business plans, Wates furloughed around a third of its workforce last month and staff at nearly all levels were also hit by a temporary pay cut – with board members taking the biggest hit with a 35% cut.
Announcing the redundancies, Wates chief executive David Allen said: “The Coronavirus has changed our lives in ways that were unimaginable at the beginning of the year. While other sectors closed as a result of the lockdown, ours was asked by government to continue working and to adopt new operating procedures. I would like to pay tribute to all of my colleagues who have continued to perform a range of essential public services and who have kept our projects progressing safely. They have been extraordinary.
“By furloughing a third of our staff and implementing pay reductions nearly seven weeks ago, we acted quickly to protect our people’s jobs. However, we cannot escape the economic consequences of the pandemic. So we have begun a process through which we will reduce the number of staff we employ by approximately 300.
“In taking this difficult step, we will match the size of our business to our forecasted levels of activity, ensuring we continue to offer services of the highest quality and best value to our customers, and remain one of the most financially resilient and sustainable businesses in our sector.”