UK holiday homes brand leader Willerby has recorded impressive financial results despite the impact of COVID-19.
The company’s latest accounts, for the year to 3rd October 2020, show how Willerby withstood the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and delivered robust returns despite a three-month manufacturing shutdown.
During the year Hull-based Willerby recorded turnover of £122.5m, compared to £153.7m in the previous 12 months when there was no interruption to business operations.
Despite the adverse impact of COVID, Willerby maintained strong profitability by recording EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) of £9.9m.
Cash balances at year end stood at £18.3m – a modest reduction from £19.8m in the previous period – and no borrowings were required to meet the challenges of the COVID crisis.
The first lockdown, imposed in March 2020, led to the full closure of manufacturing operations with other business functions operating successfully on a semi-remote basis with a skeleton staff on site.
The accounts, now published at Companies House, show Willerby invested £1.5m to reconfigure the Hull site to allow for social distancing and COVID-secure working practices and enable manufacturing operations to recommence on a phased basis from the beginning of June 2020.
Willerby also continued to forge ahead with multi-million pounds investments in quality control, manufacturing efficiency, IT and sustainability, despite the impact of COVID.
During the year Willerby invested in the introduction of the market-leading Willerby Gold Standard, a step change in manufacturing standards and quality control, together with initiatives to deliver more efficient production, which involved combined one-off costs of £4.6m.
A further £1.7m was invested in a state-of-the-art, fully integrated software solution that now forms the IT backbone of the business.
In addition, £1.2m was invested in two 1MW biomass boilers to heat Willerby’s production facilities, replacing a conventional warm air heating system, and saving 1,000 tonnes of CO² every year. The boilers use wood offcuts from Willerby’s production processes, with waste products converted to pellets on site, thereby avoiding more than 800 wagon trips annually to remove waste from the site.
Willerby Group Finance Director Sue Allan said: “These results illustrate the resilience of the business and how it is underpinned by firm financial foundations, a very strong order book, robust manufacturing processes, a talented workforce and a capable and long-established supply chain, which is overwhelmingly UK based.
“Despite what was an incredibly difficult period for the business and everyone within it, we were determined to continue to invest in projects of strategic, long-term importance.
“These investments have been successfully delivered and will support the sustainable growth of the business for many years to come.”
Willerby CEO Peter Munk said: “Our latest year end accounts are a tribute to Willerby’s underlying strength. The pandemic tested the business and our people and, together, we passed that test with flying colours.
“The actions and investments we took forward during the last financial year have provided the springboard for our current exceptionally strong performance.
“Our order book is now full until late 2022, as the pandemic has resulted in many more people embracing the lifestyle and wellbeing benefits offered by owning a holiday home in the UK.
“As a result, we are launching a new production line next month to meet the increased demand for high-quality holiday homes. Together with other recruitment, including recruitment of our largest ever intake of apprentices, it means we will soon employ over 1,100 people – 200 more than at the end of the last financial year only eight months ago.”
Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Willerby is the UK’s largest holiday homes manufacturer with an unrivalled reputation for design and build quality, technological innovation and customer care.
The business is majority owned by independent investment house Equistone Partners Europe, with a minority stake held by the management team.