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Dew drops into FD role at Kier with ‘relevant City experience’

BEVERLEY DEW has left troubled Balfour Beatty to take up the FD reins at construction and property developer Kier Group.

Dew joins a far more fiscally buoyant team at Kier; it recently trumpeted to the markets that its turnover had leapt by 50% to an all-time high of £3bn in the year ending June 2014.

This was aided by the Bedfordshire-based builder’s purchase last year of support services group May Gurney and an upswing in underlying profits to £73m, from £48m, driven by its services and construction businesses.

The 43-year-old left his finance director role at Balfour Beatty’s regional construction arm after some 18 months.

Prior to that, the former audit manager at Coopers & Lybrand spent seven years as CFO of project management & construction UK and CEMEA for Land Lease.
Immediately before that role he spent more than five years as FD at builder Redrow Homes.

Stephen Rawlinson, analyst at Whitman Howard, said: “Bev Dew has the relevant experience the City is looking for in this role at Kier in property, housing and construction. The business is entering a phase of strong growth and he looks to be the right man for the job.”

Kier said it was finally seeing signs of improvements in its regional markets, especially in the south and in the commercial and residential sectors.

Despite the rising optimism, Kier reported its pre-tax profits were down to just £15m, after contract write-downs and one-off restructuring costs from its May Gurney deal.

And in the face of rising labour and materials cost rises, its construction business built an impressive 11% rise into its operating profits to £34m pinning its operating margins to just two.

Dew replaces former FD Haydn Mursell who stepped up to be Kier’s chief executive.
Phil White, Kier chairman, commented: “I am delighted that Bev will be joining us as FD. His wide range of experience across the construction, services and residential sectors will make him an excellent addition to the board.”

The wider construction sector has struggled to claw itself out of the recessionary pit that has affected it since the Lehman Brothers collapse led to the current economic downturn.

But Kier reports its UK construction division is experiencing an increase in opportunities underpinned by its “selective approach to bidding”.

Kier's share price graphOptimism abounds, with Kier reporting its order book of “secured or probable work”, of about £2.6bn, represents all the forecast revenue for the year to 30 June 2014 and more than 80% of the forecast revenue for the year to 30 June 2015.

Its secured strategic framework awards include a place on the £176m four-year North Wales Schools and Public Buildings Framework and the £45m redevelopment of the grandstand at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Overseas, it has secured three contracts in the Middle East – two infrastructure projects totalling £48m and a £26m university building project. It also won the construction management role on a new £33m hotel in Qatar.

Stephen Rawlinson said Kier’s underexposure to single-stage tender difficulties and its inherent rising cost base had ensured that the recession had a much lighter impact on it than some of its competitors.

Meanwhile, Kier’s services division boasted a £3.5bn order book which would continue to “provide long-term visibility of revenue with all of the forecast revenue for the year to 30 June 2014 and more than 80% of forecast services revenue for the year to 30 June 2015 secured or probable”.

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