Insight – Issue forty

Our approach to safety has gained a ‘Distinction’

In February 2019, PTSG received an International Safety Award with Distinction. This was in recognition of the Group’s commitment to health, safety and wellbeing during 2018. The Group’s application scored 49 out of 58, placing it above ‘Pass’ and ‘Merit’ and into the highest category of ‘Distinction’.

The driving force behind PTSG’s uncompromising approach to safety, putting it ahead of all other considerations, is Terry Wilcock, Director of Health, Safety and the Environment at PTSG, and his team of specialists. PTSG is still one of the only organisations of its kind to have in place a team dedicated to safety, helping to raise industry standards and expectations in this area.

The Group holds 133 individual accreditations, a result of the multi-disciplinary services it delivers, each of which has its own particular criteria regarding health, safety and the environment. Nine of the accreditations are from SSIP forum members, plus the Quality ISO 9001, Environment ISO 14001 and H&S BS OHSAS 18001 ISO certificates.

In 2018, PTSG achieved a Gold Medal for receiving seven consecutive Golds in the RoSPA Health and Safety Awards, the longest-running industry awards scheme in the UK. RoSPA’s occupational health and safety policy advisor, Doctor Karen McDonnell, recently highlighted the issue of safety when working at height, and how organisations of all kinds are still not taking basic measures to prevent accidents.

Working at height forms a significant portion of PTSG’s work, and this is still recognised as the most common cause of injury at work. The most basic, common-sense precautions are often all that is required to prevent accidents and yet companies of all kinds continue to be complacent in this area. An article in Construction News in February highlighted the potentially fatal consequences of failing to have proper safety measures in place for all tasks undertaken at height. A recent breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act by a construction firm in London resulted in the death of an employee on a stairwell and a £300,000 fine.

PTSG regularly features in the pages of specialist magazines for its standard-setting safety work. An article in 2018 focused on the multiple specialist services the Group delivers, which are most often performed at height, including the installation and maintenance of façade access and fall arrest equipment, lightning protection services and high-level cleaning. PTSG takes the same uncompromising approach in all instances; and if any job cannot be undertaken safely, it doesn’t go ahead.

Insight – Issue thirty-nine

An insight into PTSG’s successful partnering

PTSG has a long history of partnering with other organisations, working collaboratively to supply one or more specialist service and ensure full compliance. We have created long-standing relationships with well-known brands including Marks & Spencer, the RAF, Scottish Water and Jaguar Land Rover as well as large first-tier providers of services to the construction and FM sectors such as Skanska, Mitie and Engie. This has resulted in a number of PFM partnership awards, including a recent win in 2018 for Partners in Corporate (Private Sector) – underlining our success in partnering, in this case with Skanska.

PTSG always aims to establish a culture of collaboration with clients and other contractors at the planning stage of a project. This enables us to keep their aims front of mind, as well as aligning all engineers’ health and safety requirements throughout works to keep team members safe at all times, as well as members of the public on certain sites.

Some of the collaborative ways in which PTSG operates include continuously appraising clients of all changes and improvements we may make to the design of a system we are installing, no matter how small or simple. Scheduling regular meetings throughout the life cycle of a project also keeps all parties informed and on brief, with no surprises – only the agreed work delivered.

PTSG’s partnership with Engie goes back to 2014, when we united with the global energy and services group and the operators of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to establish a unique collaborative culture for the delivery of routine fixed wire testing throughout the site.

Following a rigorous, competitive process, PTSG was awarded the entirety of the electrical works to carry out planned and reactive fixed wire testing.

The project included:

  • testing in 17 individual areas from car parks through to critical care departments;
  • the comprehensive electrical testing of around 15,000 electrical circuits in compliance with BS7631; and
  • the deployment of testing teams ranging from one to nine engineers (with a minimum requirement of two in mental health facilities on the site).

Our specialists had to identify innovative ways of testing the infrastructure, which is conventionally completed using a range of live and dead load testing. In areas of the hospital administering critical care, dead load testing was not an option without substantial and unthinkable consequences and the PTSG and Engie teams worked with the stakeholder group to identify, plan and undertake compliant live load testing of infrastructure as an alternative.

At the time, Terry Venables, head of FM at Engie, summarised the partnership as: “A team which has developed a strategy in accordance with the ultimate client and its customers. The relationship is seamless in delivering the works in a difficult, controlled and busy environment. I am incredibly proud of its work and would like to thank PTSG for its meticulous planning, in-depth understanding and quality of delivery.”

Insight – Issue thirty-eight

2018…another strong year

2018 was a year in which PTSG continued to see solid growth, expanding its range of services even further within its chosen market sectors. As ever, the continued success can be attributed to our business model which combines organic and acquisitive growth, with our bundled service provision and compliance activities adding value for our customers and leading to greater returns for our investors.

A bigger market share

PTSG acquired M&P Fire Protection Ltd. in July, with Guardian Electrical Compliance Ltd. coming into the Group in October. Based in Kent, M&P Fire Protection Ltd. is a company specialising in the installation, maintenance and testing of dry and wet riser systems and commercial and domestic sprinkler systems. Guardian Electrical Compliance Ltd. is located in Sheffield and is a market-leading electrical compliance and testing company. These two companies complement and strengthen the provision of our Fire Solutions and Electrical Services divisions respectively.

PTSG has made 26 acquisitions since 2007, each carefully targeted to increase the breadth and quality of our niche building services, as well as our coverage of the UK. We now employ 850 people at 21 office locations, compared with 641 staff members and 16 offices at this time last year.

Each of the four divisions has performed well over the year, with Fire Solutions making a major contribution to the Group’s turnover only a year after it was formed.

Awards that recognise PTSG’s quality

PTSG has been well decorated with industry awards over the last 11 years, but 2018 was a particularly successful year, with wins and nominations as follows.

Wins

Shortlistings

Looking to the future

BIFM rebranded in November 2018 and is now known officially as the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM). This represents a significant cultural shift, and the emphasis of the term ‘workplace’ resonates with PTSG and the approach it takes to working in multiple areas of the FM sector.

This bundled services provision is one area which sets PTSG apart from its competitors. Rather than contracting one of the Group’s divisions to provide a single service, it means that clients can benefit from multiple services – and the cost savings that brings. It has helped us to achieve a contract renewal rate in excess of 88% for several years running.

Our leadership team regards customer satisfaction as the measure of success and its contract renewal rate speaks of the satisfaction amongst customers, who repeatedly come to PTSG for high-quality, high-value niche building services.

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.