Landscaping and grounds maintenance firms reporting their latest results say they are looking forward with cautious optimism to the year ahead.
The outlook for landscaping equipment firm Marshalls was "mildly positive" according to chief executive Graham Holden, after the firm recorded a 3.7 per cent revenue increase in the 12 months to 31 December 2010. Sales rose from £311.7m in 2009 to £323.1m last year.
The increase was helped by a six per cent lift in public and commercial sector sales, which make up 60 per cent of the firm's revenue, while domestic sales grew by one per cent.
Although it suffered a £6m loss in sales caused by bad weather at the start of last year, it clawed this back through strong business in spring and summer.
Although revenue dropped by nine per cent from £50.2m in 2009 to £46.3m last year, green service provider Glendale reduced its adjusted operating loss from £0.7m in 2009 to £0.3m in 2010. Profitability in Glendale's core grounds and countryside work increased by £0.4m.
Tony Hewitt, chairman of Glendale parent company Parkwood Holdings, said the group looked forward to the future with confidence.
He added: "The Government's comprehensive spending review combined with the Localism Bill currently before Parliament suggests a greater role for the private sector in the provision of public services. The outsourcing market is valued at £80bn per annum and represents 15 per cent of all public sector expenditure; it is expected to grow by five per cent per annum or more over the next few years."
The Landscape Group, which rebranded last year as Hare Newco, anticipated an increase in turnover of £8m to more than £50m for 2010-11.
In March last year the group, which had already acquired Banyards, English Landscapes and English Landscapes Maintenance, also purchased Wyevale Grounds Maintenance and Landscapes.
Chief executive Nick-Temple Heald explained that despite experiencing a difficult year, organic growth and the acquisition of Wyevale had helped the group increase turnover.
"It has been a tough 12 months but we have responded to major local authority budget cuts by working with them to help them achieve their savings. We have addressed our inefficiencies and expect to do reasonably well over the coming year," he added.
"Last year was undoubtedly a challenging one. Contracts were fiercely contested, especially in the north. Driving down costs has been crucial to survive, as has being flexible. Order books are looking better now and 2011 is looking promising. It still remains a challenging environment and we have to adapt to succeed." - Tim Grace, Grace Landscapes, and BALI board member