Queensland-based builder Hutchinson reported a 7 per cent increase in net after-tax profit for the year to June as revenue picked up.
Chairman Scott Hutchinson dismissed the gain as “rubbish”, however, saying that like the year before it, builders struggled in buoyant times because costs were higher and efficiency across a heated industry was lower.
“Both years are rubbish,” Mr Hutchinson said after his company lodged its earnings with corporate regulator ASIC.
“That’s all you need to take from that. We haven’t had good years, but that’s what happens in a bit of a boom.”
The chairman of his family-owned company could not say, however, whether the current year would be better or not, as the COVID-19 recession had rendered too many things unclear.
It’s not the first time he has spoken about the industry’s failure to do well. Last year, when his company’s net profit more than halved, Mr Hutchinson said he hoped for a greater slowdown in the residential market, which was booming.
A falling market was better because, among other things, subcontractors were relying on their core staff of more experienced workers and were not as thinly stretched and dependent on the more recent hires. In addition, subcontractor pricing was more competitive.
“We price a job and then we go out to let the contracts. Then in a falling market it’s easier to let contracts,” he said.
The COVID-19 recession, however, created great uncertainty about how the year would play out.
“This is an extraordinary year coming up,” he said. “It’s dropped very quickly and no one knows what’s it’s going to do.”
Builders initially did not know whether they would be able to stay on site and complete jobs.
“But it’s looking like our projects have got through. Building sites haven’t shut down. The ones in Melbourne have been troublesome but workable. We haven’t got any large ones in Melbourne.
“We’re in a pretty good position and I’m a glass-half-empty person.”
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