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Gloucestershire Business News

Big county employer gives upbeat trading statement

Coronavirus hasn't been all doom and gloom for one of the county's largest employers, Spirax Sarco, which has its headquarters in Cheltenham.

The thermal energy management and niche pumping specialist, which employs more than 1,000 people in the county, today released its trading figures for the four months to 30th April. And the company, which has facilities in 60 countries, said trading has held up well, despite the unprecedented economic environment.

More than half of Spirax Sarco's sales are destined to critical sectors on the frontline of the global pandemic, such as hospitals and healthcare; pharmaceutical and biotechnology; food and beverage; power generation and water treatment, which have all been more in demand during this period than other sectors.

In its statement, Spirax Sarco said: "A small number of our manufacturing facilities in different countries faced temporary closures to comply with government directives. However, all our production facilities are now open, albeit operating at varying levels of capacity due to our desire to ensure a safe working environment for employees, including the needs of staff who are shielding or self-isolating."

Demand from MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) and small improvement project activities, which traditionally make up around 85 per cent of the company's sales revenues, experienced only a small decline, compared to a strong 2019.

In its statement, Spirax Sarco praised its staff for their response to the coronavirus crisis: "Our ability to operate in such challenging circumstances is not only a result of the resiliency of our business model and the important role we play in serving critical sectors but it is, crucially, also a reflection of the commitment, hard work and dedication of our employees. Across the world, our employees have adapted quickly and efficiently to new ways of working, whether at home or on site.

"All of our production facilities remain open, with most running split shifts to increase social distancing as well as disinfecting between shifts. Across the Group, office based workers not involved in manufacturing are working from home. We are starting to plan for a gradual return of some office-based work as governments ease restrictions. However, the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees has been, and will remain, our utmost priority and we will continue to take all necessary steps to protect and support them.

"To date we have not furloughed any of our UK personnel, which account for 25 per cent of our global workforce. In late April we introduced a temporary, voluntary flexible working scheme within the Steam Specialties business to reduce costs and support employees, many of whom are managing child or elder care alongside working.

"In order to help contain costs during the more critical months of demand weakness, the Board and over one hundred senior managers across the Group agreed in March to pay reductions ranging from 20 per cent to seven per cent. These pay cuts took effect from 1st April for a duration of six months."

Since the start of the pandemic, the company's full-year forecast has fallen to a contraction of 6.6 per cent as the impact of the Covid-19 is felt across the world, with quarterly year-on-year contractions of 3.8 per cent, 10.6 per cent, 7.6 per cent and 4.2 per cent expected throughout the year.

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