East Anglia: Strong start to new year for May Gurney

HIGHWAYS, environmental and utility services group May Gurney yesterday reported a strong start to its new financial year.

The Norfolk-based company, which operates from 60 locations across the UK and employs around 5,300 people, told shareholders attending its annual general meeting that it had maintained its forward order book at �1.4billion during the first three months.

May Gurney chairman David Sterry, addressing his last AGM before retiring, also revealed that the group has been named as preferred bidder for a seven-year waste collection, street cleaning and winter maintenance deal with Britstol City Council.

Mr Sterry told the meeting, held at Dunston Hall Hotel, near Norwich, that first quarter revenues had been strong a result of an increase in highways maintenance activity on the back of recent Government funding and contracts secured as part of AMP5, the new five-year asset management plan within the water industry.

The integration of Turriff, the group’s recent acquisition in Scotland, was on track and performing well and the board was “confident that it will provide us with a platform to deliver growth in the Scottish market.”

Mr Sterry added: “On the basis of our performance during the first three months, visibility of earnings and strong cash generation, we are confident of our prospects for the current financial year.”

The Bristol City Council waste collection, household recycling, street cleaning and winter gritting contract has been held by rival Sita since 2001.

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The new contract, which went out to tender 18 months ago, is valued at around �96million over the initial seven-year term, an includes a potential seven-year extension.

“In addition, we are mobilising recently won long-term contracts for Surrey County Council highways maintenance, Severn Trent Water and Scottish Water utilities,” said Mr Sterry yesterday.

Last month, May Gurney posted pre-tax profits of �18.8m for the year to March, up from �18.4m the previous year, on turnover up 18% at �571.4m.

As announced in the group’s annual results last month, Mr Sterry, 62, is to be succeeded as chairman at May Gurney by Margaret Ford, Baroness Ford of Cunninghame, who joined the board as a non-executive director in May and has a background in the support services and public services sectors.

Mr Sterry said: “On the eve of my retirement as chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the board, past colleagues, my professional contacts, our shareholders and everyone at May Gurney for their support during my 15 years with the company, and to wish them every success for the future”.