Insight – Issue thirty-seven

When PTSG acquired UK Dry Risers Ltd. and UK Dry Risers Maintenance Ltd. in July 2016, it led to the formation of a new division – Fire Solutions. This was subsequently consolidated with several other acquisitions including Nottingham-based Nimbus Lightning Protection Ltd, Brooke Edgley (BEST), a lightning protection and steeplejack company based in Manchester, UK Sprinklers Ltd. (UKS) in Bury, and M&P Fire Protection Ltd, based in Maidstone.

These acquisitions have enabled PTSG to offer a comprehensive range of services in fire solutions across the length and breadth of the UK. Each of these businesses has experienced tremendous growth since its integration into the Group, with UK Dry Risers Maintenance Ltd. growing by 37% in the first six months following acquisition.

Events in 2017 reminded everyone in the industry of the need for an unwavering commitment to safety, upholding British Safety Standards to the letter. The benefits of effective fire protection systems were made clear on the first anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy, when a fire broke out in a Lewisham tower block. Although around 150 people evacuated the building upon being alerted, the fire was effectively suppressed by a PTSG-installed sprinkler system, allowing the London fire brigade to bring the fire under control.

Fire safety must be the foundation upon which all buildings are constructed, with rigorous regular testing and maintenance. It is now integrated as one of our biggest growth areas having seen an unprecedented demand for wet and dry riser and sprinkler services over the past few months. By continuing to keep quality and safety clearly aligned, we will safeguard the users of the buildings we work on and in doing so, substantially expand our business.

Our specialist teams are also equipped to deliver a full complement of emergency lighting services. Emergency lighting is required for all commercial and industrial buildings. We are equipped to deliver emergency lighting testing, installations, upgrades and surveys to make sure that all people can be guided to safety in the event of an emergency. Our emergency lighting range is extensive with many different types and sizes of fittings to suit a wide range of building types and sizes. All works undertaken are delivered to BS5266 standard.

The success of PTSG’s fire protection offering was featured in a full-page article in the Mail on Sunday’s investment column in June 2018. The article highlighted the success of Fire Solutions, which is integral to the overall success of the Group, describing its shares as “a good addition to investors’ portfolios, particularly for those looking for a long-term growth story.”

Insight – Issue thirty-six

PTSG’s maintenance teams offer value to clients by taking time to fix things before they break, preventing more in-depth costly repairs in the future and keeping the facilities functioning properly.

Regular testing and inspection of safety systems, electrical equipment, lightning protection systems and fire protection equipment is vital for ensuring the safety of building users and protecting clients’ assets.

Each of PTSG’s divisions has an experienced and knowledgeable maintenance team, visiting thousands of sites across the UK every day to keep clients’ sites operating safely and efficiently.

Planned preventative maintenance (PPM) has several benefits:

Safety

PPM makes sure that equipment is functioning properly, avoiding hazards, unsafe working conditions and any accidents or injuries that may result from faulty equipment.

Efficiency

Maintenance helps clients to decrease downtime and plan around scheduled maintenance and allows them to choose optimal times to ensure that works cause no interruptions to their day-to-day operations.

Time savings

Reactive maintenance is only carried out once equipment has started to face problems. Emergency repairs and replacements often result in much longer periods of downtime than required for PPM.

Cost savings

Waiting for a problem to happen can be a costly move. Unplanned downtime results in idle employees, missed deadlines and sometimes even damage to a company’s reputation. Long-term maintenance programmes focus on preventing equipment failure, which is much more cost-efficient than carrying out large repairs.

Insight – Issue thirty-five

The recent announcement of our interim results for 2018 highlighted record levels of growth for revenue and profits, with an increase of 37% and 35% on this time last year, respectively.

This growth is largely the result of three acquisitions made in 2017. The acquisitions of Nimbus Lightning Protection and Brook Edgley boosted our position in the Lightning Protection sector, and the acquisition of UK Sprinklers enhanced the capabilities of our rapidly growing Fire Solutions division.

The integration of these acquisitions enabled us to make a further acquisition on 5 July to strengthen and extend our fire protection offering. M & P Fire Protection Ltd, based in Maidstone, is a specialist in the installation and maintenance of sprinkler, dry and wet riser systems.

John Foley, Chairman of PTSG, said: “The first half of 2018 was a period of internal focus to integrate the three acquisitions made in 2017 into PTSG as well as a period of external communication and delivery to ensure that our customer base understood and reacted favourably to the new divisional structure that was implemented in 2017.

“Both objectives were successfully achieved and I am pleased to report continuing record levels of turnover, gross profit, adjusted EBITDA and adjusted earnings per share were achieved in the period.

“Our principal objective is to build a Group which is the UK’s leading provider of clearly identified niche specialist services to customers in the facilities management, construction and property sectors.

“Our focus on compliance to a demanding set of safety standards remains foremost in our thoughts and actions. We continue to see and develop further opportunities which can assist the Group to achieve its stated principal objectives and the pipeline of potential acquisitions remains both healthy and full.

We remain both confident about continuing the positive revenue and profit momentum which is evident in the Group’s results for the first six months of 2018 and also enthusiastic about our prospects for the future.”

Key highlights

  • An excellent first half of 2018 with revenue increasing 38% to £30.2m (H1 2017: £21.9m)
  • Strong underlying organic revenue growth of 14%
  • Gross profit up 37% to £15.4m (H1 2017: £11.2m)
  • Robust gross margin of 51% (H1 2017: 51%)
  • Adjusted operating profit* growth of 35% to £5.9m (H1 2017: £4.4m)
  • Adjusted eps* of 5.03p up 30% (H1 2017: 3.86p)
  • Improvement in trading cash conversion to 81% (H1 2017: 64%)
  • Strong contract wins and renewal rate of 88%, including strong improvement in BEST’s renewal rate moving towards Group average.
  • Interim dividend increased by 13% to 0.9p per share (H1 2017: 0.8p per share).
  • Fire Solutions division demonstrated a particularly strong performance, up 148% on comparative period:
    • UK Sprinklers Ltd acquired in September 2017, fully integrated into the Fire Solutions division with good contribution in H1.
    • M&P Fire Protection Ltd acquired in July 2018 extends our geographical coverage, especially in London and the South East.

* before adjusting items of £4.2m (2017: £2.4m) resulting in a statutory operating profit of £1.7m (2017: £2.0m) and eps of 1.06p (2017: 1.15p)

Insight – Issue thirty-four

An insight into our journey so far

From a standing start in 2007, PTSG has now become the UK’s leading provider of niche specialist services to the facilities management industry.

Our first acquisition was of an access and safety company, National Cradle Maintenance Limited, in 2007, which was funded by £0.9 million of equity from the founders. Since then, 23 further acquisitions have been funded through a combination of outside funding and internally generated cash flows.

One of the key generators of our growth has been the cross selling of services into our respective customer bases, and this will continue to be part of our strategy going forward. Our existing customers often choose us to provide other specialist services, as they already know the value and quality we offer. This has led to an 88 per cent contract renewal rate.

Originally created to fill a gap in the market for demand for a specialist business offering niche services, PTSG has since become the UK’s foremost provider of specialist services.

This business continues to grow, most recently with the acquisition of M&P Fire Protection Ltd., a specialist sprinkler company, expanding out Fire Solutions provision and geographical coverage in the South East.

As the company continues to grow we will continue to deliver based on our business philosophy of delivering well and delivering safely. This will be done by strengthening resources where necessary, targeting planned investment and maintaining a tight control on budgets.

Our growth is also backed by a strong financial team who have developed and implemented a capital structure that allows us to translate our high profits into cash, effectively allowing the business to keep operating.

The success of this approach was made clear with the recent collapse of Carillion, which had minimal impact on PTSG due to our strong risk management processes. The business ensures all FM companies are paying to terms to minimise any exposure and eliminate risk.

If you’d like to discuss how our expert teams can assist your business, please call Group Sales Director Andrew Dack on 07703 974527.

Insight – Issue thirty-three

The facilities management industry relies heavily on high-quality procurement as the nature of contractor and subcontractor contracts leaves little room for error with margins that are often extremely thin.

Striking the perfect balance between cost effectiveness and quality can be a challenge and risks creating a race to the bottom, leaving in its wake an industry plagued by safety and quality issues.

One of the key tenets of PTSG’s success is the broad range of services it provides. This is its unique selling point, with the ability to offer bundled specialist services and giving customers cost-effective solutions that maintain an outstanding level of quality by using one dedicated contractor.

Having proven itself as a trusted and high-quality supplier for work across several areas, including access and safety, lightning protection, electrical testing, specialist building access, steeplejacks, high-level cleaning and fire solutions, PTSG has strong relationships with its customers and an impressive contract renewal rate of 88 per cent.

As a result, the organisation is often seen as the natural choice for existing clients that are looking for partners in other areas, securing more multidisciplinary contracts year on year. For example, a number of its long-term contracts with major FM companies have been extended in the last year to include the installation and maintenance of fire protection systems, simply due to the ease and peace of mind that comes with working with PTSG.

Paul Teasdale, CEO of PTSG, said: “We are extremely pleased that our unique way of doing business has been proven to create value not only for PTSG, but also for our customers and their people. Knowing that we are helping to drive change in a way that will have such important knock-on effects for the industry really gives our teams a huge boost in motivation to continue delivering consistently high-quality work.”

Insight – Issue thirty-two

A great deal of PTSG’s work is performed at height which, according to the Health & Safety Executive, is an organisation’s most dangerous activity and one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries. In addition, PTSG’s specialists are often contracted to work on historic or unusual buildings, which also makes working at height an extremely complex operation.

For this kind of work, PTSG can mobilise its highly-qualified rope access teams, who design and install bespoke access systems for each building they work on. Before any high-level work is scheduled, the Group undertakes a full inspection of the site(s) to ensure the safety of all who use it.

As well as being extremely safe and effective in reaching even the most awkward corners of buildings, one of the great advantages of rope access is that it reduces or even eliminates the requirement for scaffolding, which is unsightly and inconvenient for people at ground level – not to mention expensive. At Edinburgh’s Balmoral Hotel, PTSG dispatched its rope access specialist to perform emergency repairs on the building’s stonework, which was declared unsafe. The contract was subsequently extended to include the painting of over 500 windows at the hotel.

The Balmoral Hotel is next to Edinburgh Waverley rail station and Waverley Mall shopping centre. The site team worked closely with the hotel management, Network Rail, the City of Edinburgh Council and the owners of the Waverley Mall shopping centre to ensure that the impact of the work on all users was kept to an absolute minimum. Separate risk assessments and method statements were produced for each of the main stakeholders in the project, detailing any potential impact on their site and users.

Access for the site team to the western aspect of the hotel is compromised by the glass canopy over stairs leading up to the Waverley Mall, and to the south side of the hotel, over the walkway to Waverley Railway Station. These glass canopies cannot bear the weight of PTSG’s operatives. As a result, PTSG’s team proposed a solution to install a crash deck system using air bags to protect members of the public, PTSG’s operatives as well as the canopy structures in the event of a fall. This is a prime example of PTSG bringing added value to a client through innovation.

Insight – Issue thirty-one

Premier Technical Services Group PLC (PTSG) is well known as an expert in a wide range of specialist services. Our knowledgeable teams across the company are regularly called upon to provide training to maintenance personnel and operatives working at height, making sure they understand the best ways to deliver their work safely and effectively.

We make sure our approach to training benefits our clients and teams in the best way, ensuring it is high-quality, engaging and useful.

1. Make training hands-on

Practical training helps people to remember what they have learnt, and discussions, case studies and computer-generated animations can help to keep everyone engaged.

2. Keep training useful

Discussions about real situations and practical tasks mean people can put what they’ve learned straight to work.

3. Don’t lecture from the front

‘Classroom-style’ teaching may hinder people’s motivation to learn. Friendly and interactive learning is often much more effective.

4. Remember the pressures people face

Our training teams are experts in their industries and know exactly what trainees’ work involves. This allows them to see things from their perspective which is key to getting the message across.

Insight – Issue thirty

Mounted permanently at roof level, a BMU is the safest and most comprehensive type of suspended access system, providing full lateral, horizontal and vertical movement of the working platform. BMUs are automatic, remote controlled or mechanical devices which carry window washing operatives or mechanical robots to maintain or clean the covered surfaces. Units range from small, simple devices used by a single operative to larger outreach units used on high-rise buildings.

Integral Cradles, PTSG’s London-based cradles installation specialist, which provides permanent façade access equipment for a wide range of significant buildings, has provided bespoke access solutions for some of the capital’s most iconic – and architecturally challenging – buildings.

One such building, The Scalpel, is a 190-metre tall tower, named for its unique, angular shape. PTSG’s expert engineers were called upon to design and install two complex BMUs at the site, as well as a series of intricate moving roofs to house them, enabling the safe and easy storage of this access equipment.

The two BMUs are eight storeys tall – approximately the height of ten cars stacked one on top of the other. They are installed on either side of The Scalpel, on the east and west elevations. The larger unit on the west side has an impressive 19-metre operating radius, is 49 metres in height, weighs 41,300 kg and has a 1,000-kg glass replacement capacity.

The project’s requirement for such a unique design allowed the PTSG team to provide a BMU that worked harder for the building, serving it in more ways that just maintenance. The east BMU was designed with a roof panel comprising photovoltaic solar cells, which move and slide in tandem with the unit’s operation. The cells provide renewable energy for the building, a valuable extra benefit of the system.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) was used by PTSG designers and engineers throughout the project at The Scalpel. This enabled any problems to be detected and resolved quickly and easily with the use of 3-dimensional imagery. The digital modelling and information for the BMUs produced via BIM were used as part of the training process to show the client how to operate the units.

 

Insight – Issue twentynine

PTSG wants to set the standard for safety for the rest of the industry. We are focused on educating and engaging operatives to ensure that safe working practices and wellbeing in the workplace is the priority for all of us.

A culture of safety

Our culture and framework for continual improvement is based on the plan-do-check-act model and includes site inspection, performance measurement and the monitoring of the Group’s safe performance targets.

Now into our second decade, the strong growth we enjoyed quickly led to us adopting health and safety policies and procedures that mirrored those of a much larger company in order to make sure our increasing size never overwhelmed our health and safety efforts. We now proudly boast a more comprehensive and effective health and safety procedure than many of the UK’s Tier One contractors.

PTSG’s bespoke software system, Clarity, creates an extra safety net for engineers on site, with engineer tracking that allows in-office teams to keep an eye on lone workers and engineers travelling between sites.

We also regularly bring in outside support to further promotion of the highest health and safety standards. By organising talks with safety professionals and speakers like Jason Anker, who was seriously injured in a workplace accident, we are able to learn from others, promoting a health and safety culture where knowledge is shared and highly valued throughout the team.

Industry recognition

PTSG’s SHE team is working collectively to improve our approach to health and safety. Together, we are now reaching standards that go beyond compliance and set the pace for the rest of our industry to follow.

Our record of success in health and safety has been underlined by a multitude of awards during the last few years. More recently, our achievements have been recognised in the most prestigious global awards for commitment to good workplace health and safety management.

For the seventh year running, PTSG will receive an International Safety Award from the British Safety Council for ongoing commitment to safety in the workplace.

A total of 623 applications were received for the 2018 awards, which are independently marked by health and safety experts. The review and scoring of applications is particularly robust and PTSG scored highly to achieve the award with Merit.

Safety accreditation and training

PTSG has gained over 130 individual accreditations including approval to work on Network Rail infrastructure and accreditations from SSIP forum members. We have been successful in renewing our UKAS accredited ISO 9001:2015, ISO14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certification.

Such is PTSG’s commitment to a healthy and safe environment at work that we also provide bespoke training solutions for people and organisations who work at height. Training and development is delivered by engineering experts with vast industry experience, ensuring technical content is high quality, relevant and up to date. PTSG is confirmed as an Approved Training Organisation by CITB.

All of our work to raise the standards of safety in the workplace is underscored by the PTSG mantra: “If we can’t do it safely, we don’t do it.”

Insight – Issue twentyeight

The broad range of services that PTSG delivers across its four divisions has become its unique selling point, with its ability to offer bundled services streamlining its provision of specialist works and giving customers cost-effective solutions that maintain an outstanding level of quality by utilising one dedicated contractor.

A strong example of PTSG’s ability to offer multiple services to one client as part of an ongoing partnership is the Group’s collaboration with Marks & Spencer PLC (M&S). A partnership which began when PTSG was originally commissioned to carry out fall arrest testing at a handful of stores has since evolved to include a wide range of services, including cradle maintenance, fall arrest and lightning protection across more than 400 M&S stores nationwide. PTSG also carries out surveys at new stores not yet covered within its current contract and provides solutions for cost-savings and improvements to M&S.

For UNITE Students, PTSG has offered a vast array of specialist services to the organisation’s entire portfolio- more than 50 sites, acting not only as a supplier but also a compliance manager, delivery partner and technical and training advisor. PTSG Access and Safety has been enlisted to carry out Working at Height training across UNITE’s UK portfolio to ensure its FM team is fully trained in the safe use and operation of the fall arrest equipment as well as completing vast amounts of repairs and essential upgrades to man safe systems.

PTSG also often acts as a specialist component of a larger facilities management contract undertaken by its client. For example, in 2014 PTSG was contracted by CBRE, the Co-operative Group’s M&E services provider, to begin working with the Co-operative, performing PAT and fixed wire testing at eight distribution centres. Following a successful delivery of this contract the Group was commissioned to provide PAT and fixed wire testing to over 600 large food stores, local stores and funeral service providers across the UK.

As a result of the previous work carried out, PTSG was also awarded multiple contracts to carry out lightning protection upgrades at various sites, including the Co-operative Bank’s head offices in Manchester. The new work packages involved some of the Co-operative’s major buildings including the CIS tower and One Angel Square, both based in Manchester.