Harrogate’s Vp delays divi as revenue falls to £363m

Harrogate-based equipment rental group Vp plc said on Wednesday its revenue fell 5% to £362.9 million for the year ended March 31, 2020, and that it has delayed a decision on a dividend until later in the year.

Vp said it enjoyed a record profit before tax, amortisation and exceptional items of £47.1 million.

Statutory profit before taxation fell to £28.4 million from £33.6 million.

Vp chairman Jeremy Pilkington said: “The results up until 31 March 2020 can be considered a very satisfactory performance, with modest margin and PBT improvement achieved against a highly uncertain economic backdrop with the UK being distracted by Brexit and the General Election in December 2019.

“Vp was expecting to see a return to heightened activity levels across our core markets, however the worldwide government restrictions imposed on movement as a results of Covid-19 have had an impact on trading for the current financial year. 

“We are however encouraged that in several sectors, activity has started to pick up and it is encouraging to hear the emphasis Governments are giving to the importance of resuming work wherever possible whilst respecting safety guidelines.

“It is however too early to have visibility on when trading might restore to normal levels, and therefore owing to the exceptional circumstances of Covid-19, the board has decided to delay the decision on a dividend until later in the year when the group would hope to have better visibility of the overall situation.  

“The board appreciates that income is of vital importance to shareholders and we intend to restore normal patterns of distributions as soon as possible.”

Vp CEO Neil Stothard said: “The group took decisive action to control costs at the start of the pandemic including stopping all but essential recruitment and capital expenditure. 

“We kept many of our operating locations open for business throughout, in support of those critical sectors requiring our services, we initially mothballed some sites and participated in the Government’s job retention scheme, furloughing approximately half of our UK employees at the peak in April. 

“We have since re-opened branches and taken employees out of furlough as demand has slowly recovered.   

“The international division has also been impacted with different countries feeling different effects of the pandemic.

“We have strengthened further our financial position by conserving cash; reducing costs and delaying the dividend. 

“We believe that this will help ensure the long-term resilience of the business as well as its capability to respond quickly as markets recover. 

“Vp is fundamentally sound, and is built on over 60 years of successful development. 

“A combination of supporting a diversity of markets across a range of geographies together with a strong financial discipline and an excellent team will help us to quickly re-position the business and allow us to embrace the fresh but increasingly positive challenges that the next 12 months will hold.”