Profits squeezed as builder Barratt takes £74m coronavirus hit

Investors holding shares in Barratt Developments will be forced to wait for the company to pay out another dividend, after its profit nearly halved in the most recent financial year.

The 12 months to June 30 were bruising for the business, as its pre-tax profit fell 46% to £491.8 million on revenue of £3.42 billion, a drop of 28%.

Barratt completed 5,252 fewer homes than the previous year, a drop of 29%, as building sites were forced to close for weeks during the pandemic.

The company took a £74.3 million hit and said investors will have to wait until “the time is right” to get another dividend payout. Last year’s dividend was 46.4p per share.

Some £45.2 million of the hit was related to safety costs and the cost of leaving sites empty, with the remaining £29.1 million down to delays in construction.

Chief executive David Thomas said: “While Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our results, our priority has been to keep our people safe, mitigate the effect of the pandemic on our business and be able to emerge from the crisis in a resilient position.

“Although uncertainties remain, all of our sites are operational, we are seeing very strong consumer demand and our robust financial position means we enter the new financial year with cautious optimism.

“We are now renewing our focus on our medium-term targets, on leading the industry in quality and service, and on supporting jobs and economic growth by building the homes the country needs.”

The company said it had initially claimed £26 million from the Government to cover the salaries of its employees – the majority of whom were furloughed. It has since made the decision to return this cash.