David Allen, Chief Executive of the Wates Group, outlines how the company is open for business and shares the steps it is taking to help keep the industry going in these challenging times.
As the scale and likely effects of the coronavirus become clearer to us all, I want to reassure you that Wates remains open for business and to share the steps we are taking to help keep our industry going in these challenging times.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, our employees and the wider public has always been our top priority, so we are taking the coronavirus outbreak extremely seriously. We are following and sharing with all of our staff the Government’s health advice to make sure we play our part in slowing and reducing the spread of the coronavirus and we have implemented a number of actions across the Group to safeguard our people and our operations to ensure that, as far as possible, business continues as usual.
We are working alongside our customers to focus our full attention and all of our resources on the projects and contracts that are already in progress. Existing protocols established with our supply chain to ensure the continuity of supply of essential products and materials have been reviewed and extended to those regions most impacted by the virus including Italy and China. As far as possible, we have identified alternative sources of products and materials that are in short supply. Your Wates project lead will be in contact with you to explain any impacts this could have on your work and to agree the relevant mitigation measures.
Keeping our sites open
As well as ensuring the security of materials, we are conscious of the need to maintain security of labour. We have established the minimum level of personnel required to operate each of our projects and offices safely and productively, and have this week implemented a split working protocol in our head office and all of our regional offices, to ensure that we can continue to pay our suppliers on time and that all parts of our business are being supported.
We withdrew from all large meetings and events some weeks ago, and are encouraging our entire team to avoid all unnecessary travel and, of course, to self-isolate if they, or people they have come into close contact with, are symptomatic.
Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, Wates is focused on the long-term sustainability of our business. Our financial performance in 2019, on which we will be reporting later this month, was excellent. Consequently, we approach the coming months from a position of substantial financial strength, with significant cash reserves and with the support of our banks who committed last year to an extensive credit facility from which we can fund future investments.
These are challenging times for all of us, but I want to reassure you that Wates is well prepared and will continue to provide you with the very highest level of service. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything we can do to support you and your organisation.”