Continued diversification pays dividends at Clark Contracts
Turnover at Clark Contracts has increased from £72 million to £78m as the 41-year-old firm benefitted from repeat custom and a move into the residential sector.
During the 2018 financial year, 70% of Clark Contracts’ business came from the private sector resulting in significant growth in this sector whilst maintaining their share of the public sector market.
In addition to moving into new sectors, Clark Contracts maintained its relationship with repeat customers having recently been awarded its 11th project for supermarket giant Lidl, and continued to work for other long-term customers such as the University of Glasgow, the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Airport and Renfrewshire Council. Approximately 80% of the work delivered by Clark Contracts in the last five years has been for repeat customers.
Gordon Cunningham, managing director at Clark Contracts, said: “Our strategy over the last few years has included diversification into the hotel and retail sectors and this has continued in 2019 as we have developed into the residential sector.”
Although the turnover has grown over the years, Mr Cunningham explained that the focus on margins and cash, and not on turnover, will ensure financial stability.
He said: “We are not driven by short term shareholders seeking dividends which allows us to continue to make long term investments in the business and provides greater financial stability.
“We believe there are three factors which have been instrumental in helping us achieve steady, consistent and profitable growth over the past few years. These are firstly a commitment to invest back into the business, whether it is people, infrastructure or technology.
“Then, there has been the growing influence of our award-winning Academy where we focus on nurturing and developing talent at all levels of the business. Thirdly, there is our long-established Customers 1st programme which applies to every employee, regardless of role or position, encouraging the highest standards of customer care and service which, in turn, contributes directly to a high level of repeat business.”
Gordon added: “We see it as a natural progression for the company to deliver larger value and more complex projects and this has occurred organically over the years.
“The same goes for the increase in geographical spread, with projects currently on-site at the top of the country for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service in Peterhead and south of the country in Southampton with the delivery of one of three Moxy Hotels. In addition to the increase in project size, we continue to grow our Small Works Division which has an annual turnover of £15m.”
The careful consideration of finances is mirrored in its relationship with suppliers and subcontractors with over 96% of invoices paid within 60-days, which exceeds the 95% target stipulated in the Prompt Payment Code.
To allow this to continue, Clark Contracts recognises the importance of its people through persistent investment in its Academy with over £500k spent on training in the last year on Clark Contracts employees.
In addition to its recruitment and development of apprentices and trainees, of which Clark Contracts now employs over 50, the organisation has invested in the continued development of its staff at all levels with a unique masters course at Glasgow Caledonian University and bespoke leadership and management programme now in place.
Over 20% of Clark Contracts’ employees are studying towards formal qualifications through the organisation.
Training investment isn’t unique to the academic side of the business and over £11,000 has already been invested in mental health training for employees in addition to Customers 1st training, which is the company’s unique service delivery programme relevant to all 260 employees regardless of role or position.
The company is always keen to gather employee feedback and issues an annual employee survey which asks employees to rate and comment topics such as opportunities to progress, confidence in senior management and work/life balance. As a result of the feedback, changes such as annual paid charity days, life assurance cover, critical illness income protection cover, improved maternity and paternity pay and loyalty holidays have been implemented.
Gordon summed up the firm’s ethos as one of “approachability, accountability and consistency over the long-term”.