Self-build is looking up.

James Burrell reports 25% sale increase

Published:  20 April, 2010

GATESHEAD: James Burrell's directors are "cautiously optimistic" of a return to profit after a slowdown in the construction market saw it make a loss of almost £400 000 last year.

The building and timber supplies merchant saw its sales drop from £43.9m to £32.5m in 12 months to 31 October last year. The directors hope to return to annual sales of around £45m in two years' time as the construction market begins to recover.

The company, which employs around 160 people, said much of its losses related to credit insurance being withdrawn on some customers. The firm, which made a profit of £5819 during its previous financial year, also said it had seen its workforce drop from around 210 since August 2008, when it first noticed a sharp decline in orders.

It is looking to recruit additional staff after like-for-like sales increased 25% in March. Managing director Stephen Richardson said: "It has been a tough time for the business, with orders pretty much falling off a cliff from August 2008.

"However, we are now cautiously optimistic about the future and are beginning to see a marked pick-up in orders, particularly from contractors within the housing market.

"The last few months have also seen the North East building community work closer together to ensure that work is kept in the region, which has helped us immensely. Our dedicated staff have also ensured that the quality of our service has not suffered during the past two years."

James Burrell operates eight depots at Newcastle, Blyth, Gateshead, Middlesbrough, Bishop Auckland, Stockton, York and Ossett, West Yorkshire, providing material for a wide range of sectors.

Mr Richardson said: "There are a number of reasons for optimism at the moment, both in the field of private housing and larger projects." Self-build is also an area that is picking up for us."

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