2016 represented another positive year for the Wates Group, not just in terms of strong financial performance but also in terms of our continued investment in our people and in our relationships with important stakeholders. These results are in keeping with our commitment to a long-term view of success.
We successfully integrated SES (Engineering Services) Ltd and the trade and assets of a number of construction projects from Shepherd Construction Limited.
We continued implementing our strategy of focusing on construction, property services and residential developments, with the goal of becoming the most trusted partner in the built environment.
The strong financial results reflected in this report are testament to the quality and commitment of our people, the strength of our relationships with clients and partners, and our robust financial management.
The excellence of our management team was also reflected in Building Magazine’s recognition of the Wates Group as Major Contractor of the Year, and Andrew Davies as CEO of the Year.
All this took place within an evolving political climate during 2016, dominated by the UK’s decision to exit from the EU. The impact on the construction sector is uncertain, although we are looking ahead, and remain focused on engaging in a renewed effort to ensure the availability of a stronger domestic pool of skilled labour across the built environment trades and professions.
Even before the referendum result, it was clear that the sector needed to change – in particular by investing more in skills and modern methods of construction – and this was confirmed in the release of a government-commissioned report by Mark Farmer in October 2016. Notwithstanding the report’s stark message, “Modernise or Die”, it provided clear avenues for progress which will guide the sector going forward.
The government responded to uncertainty created by the EU referendum decision with a welcomed confirmation of its commitment to invest in infrastructure and increased availability of housing, and the markets in which the Wates Group competes appear resilient.
The Group’s commitment to excellence was reflected in our winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category for the second time in a row. This was a great accomplishment of which all employees should be proud, and hosting the Princess Royal in our recently-renovated Leatherhead offices for the presentation ceremony was a highlight of the year.
The Queen’s Award recognised that our commitment to long-term sustainability, implemented through the Reshaping Tomorrow programme, is truly integrated into our business and is a vital ingredient of our success.
Finally, on behalf of the shareholders, I would like to thank the Group’s Board of Directors and all employees for their hard work and continued commitment to our values of integrity, intelligence, performance, teamwork and respect.
James Wates, CBE