Havelock warning as flooding hits profits

HAVELOCK Europa, the Fife-based retail and schools fitting firm, issued a profits warning yesterday after suffering from severe weather conditions and a waning of festive shop promotional trade at the end of last year.

Havelock's share price plunged 29 per cent to 19p at the close of the market yesterday. It admitted to "significant slippage in programmes" in a trading update for the year ending 31 December 2009.

Hew Balfour, Havelock's chief executive, blamed floods in the last two weeks of November and snow in the month of December for causing significant disruption, slowing work on schools in three of Havelock's major PFI programmes.

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"It was a very difficult year for us and the weather was a layer of icing we didn't need on the cake," said Balfour.

He claimed that "people have forgotten" about the floods in western and south-western Scotland and Northern Ireland in the third week of November.

"There are a number of schools that should have been finished in December where the sites were experiencing a quagmire effect," he explained.

Aborted deliveries and unrecoverable labour costs for stalled projects are likely to cost the firm 1.6 million.

Following the closure of its Dalgety Bay manufacturing plant last year, Balfour said most of Havelock's cuts had already taken place, with 55 people leaving the company in December.

As funding for Scottish education's public sector effectively "ground to a halt", Balfour said "all our work (in schools] has to be done in England."

Looking forward Havelock was encouraged by positive trading results from its big retail clients, such as House of Fraser, despite reporting that its point of sales printing division suffered slower November and December levels of trade.