The Managing Director of Julius Berger Plc, Dr. Lars Richter has said the company closed the 2019 financial year with great success, achieving an increase in turnover of 37%; and with an extraordinarily high cash flow and increase in profitability.
According to a statement by officials of Julius Berger, Richter stated this at the company’s 2020 annual general meeting, directed by the Chairman, Mutiu Sunmonu and coordinated from its headquarters in Abuja, with board members, Mr. Ernest Chukwudi Ebi, and Mrs. Gladys Talabi and other shareholders also participating virtually at its Lagos office.
The statement said Julius Berger paid out a dividend of two naira for every share of 50kobo held, as well as a bonus share to shareholders for the business year ended December 31, 2019.
The managing director reviewed Julius Berger’s business for the reporting year, 2019, with specific focus on the current status of the company’s operations since the COVID-19 pandemic, with a projection on their outlook for 2020 and beyond.
He listed some of the company’s successes in the last decade, stating, “2019 was the last year of the decade, and we ended it on a very high note.” He hinged the success on “powerful operational performance, where Julius Berger increasingly modernised its human resource structures and systems, invested in new equipment and advanced its work, while maintaining top standards for quality and record-breaking HSE performance and achievements, as well as identifying and exploring opportunities for diversification of its business.”
The statement said “Richter also gave kudos to the high-performing subsidiaries of the Julius Berger Plc Group, mentioning Abumet Nigeria Limited which expanded on its product portfolio, with the development of an insulated glass production line, under the brand EVONIG GLASS and Julius Berger Services Nigeria Limited (the company’s maritime subsidiary at the Warri Port) which launched a cooperation agreement for a liner service between Northern Europe and Warri Port as well as Julius Berger’s furniture facility, AFP, which worked to expand its market share with the opening of its showroom in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial and business capital.”
He listed projects the company successfully acquired in 2019 to include Office of the National Security Adviser, New HQ Abuja; New Technology Building, Abuja; rehabilitation of Control Towers at Tin Can Island Port and Lagos Port Complex, Apapa; International Worship Centre, Uyo, Main Contract scoped at 9,000 m2 with a capacity holding for roughly 5,500 visitors; and construction of Rumuokoro, Garrison, Artillery flyovers in Port Harcourt.
Other major and ongoing projects of the company include works for the delivery of the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road where a partial handing over was implemented on December 19, 2019, in section 2 (10 km on the southbound) and on February 6, 2020, in section 3 (7.4 km on the northbound); the Second Niger Bridge where Julius Berger is working day and night to ensure timely project completion and where the last pile cap across the Niger was placed, only a few weeks ago; the Lagos-Shagamu Expressway where work continues to progress steadily; the Bodo-Bonny Road, a key priority project where progress continues to be achieved daily and the road at Bodo has nearly been completed and the main structure of the AFA bridge is, indeed, completed.
Other ongoing Julius Berger projects include the FAFMA Office Tower in Lagos which continued to grow with superstructure works progressing towards the realisation of the building’s 20-storey height; the new technology building in Abuja projected for completion this year.
Speaking on the global COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on business, Richter thanked the Federal and State governments for acting swiftly to contain COVID-19 and its degenerative effect on the economy. He informed the AGM that the speed and seriousness of the pandemic’s impact across the globe and on business was not immediately tractable. Richter added that in compliance with the federal government’s lockdown restrictions, Julius Berger continues to implement response and mitigation measures. In line with the phased and gradual easing of the lockdown measures, the company is carrying out a phased reopening, with “return to work protocols” in place. This process the MD said “includes an internal and external awareness campaign, specialised HSE training, dedicated hygiene and safety precautions and social distancing practices, all part of our return to work protocol.”
Richter said the company’s workers retained their jobs in the midst of the pandemic. “It is notable to mention that no Julius Berger staff has lost their job due to COVID-19. The management’s priority was not only to protect the health of all staff, but also to protect their livelihood.”
He also informed the meeting that, as part of the company’s important Corporate Social Responsibility Policy, “…in the face of the covid-19 crisis, Julius Berger has stood strong as a pillar of support to our communities and the nation at large. Beyond the protective measures enacted towards staff safety and well-being, Julius Berger has supported Federal and State Governments, as well as key public agencies and healthcare providers and communities in their fight against the pandemic. Julius Berger continues to give targeted donations of supplies and equipment, including PPE, over 700 beds for hospitals and a much-needed ambulance vehicle. Furthermore, to provide direct relief to citizens, Julius Berger launched a Food for our Communities campaign, with over 100,000 kilograms of food supplies donated to communities to date.”
On the future outlook for the company’s business, the managing director remains reasonably hopeful, saying that “strengthening Julius Berger’s core construction business, client mix and the group’s subsidiaries as well as diversification with a greater balance of private sector projects will act as a support to shore up opportunities beyond the company’s core business”. Richter added that “…in the public sector, focus will remain on successfully executing projects of national priority.”
Julius Berger, Richter said, continues to be in a strong position to succeed. According to Richter, “Our reputation for reliability and record of success provides clients strong assurance that no matter the requirement, Julius Berger will always deliver…. Through the introduction of new and efficient technologies, we continue to be unmatched in our ability to pioneer time and cost saving construction methodologies that add value. Our quality sets the bar in Nigeria and ISO Certification demonstrates that our Quality Management Systems support consistency and excellence in operations. Julius Berger’s resources, the strongest of which are its highly skilled staff, remain unmatched in the Nigerian construction sector.”