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Regional duo look to retrofit

Regional giants Kier Group and Rok are taking aim at the emerging £28 billion sector to retrofit the UK’s housing stock.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change last week revealed it would move to introduce Pay As You Save “green mortgages” that could be fixed against properties rather than individuals.

The move is regarded as a major step towards retrofitting the UK’s 26 million homes.

Kier, which manages a 240,000-strong social housing stock, is exploring ways of retrofitting its own portfolio. The contractor is in talks with several companies about implementing schemes using innovative finance methods like PAYS to fund work.

Meanwhile Rok is conducting a trial with B&Q where homeowners can obtain a long-term interest-free loan to improve their home with retrofitted items.

A £1m pot of cash has been allocated for the Rok pilot scheme, with about £10,000 expected to be spent on each home.

Work on retrofitting properties throughout the London borough of Sutton for the trial will start next week.
Rok chief executive Garvis Snook said: “B&Q have created a store where customers can come in and discuss their options, whether they are eligible for a grant or they can take a loan.

“They are the interface with the customer and we will be fitting the B&Q products, much as we already do with their kitchens and bathrooms.

“We are also in talks with other companies in this arena. It is an area we are investing in heavily at the moment.”

In its results for the year to 31 December 2009, Rok reported a 188 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £17 million, from £5.9 million the previous year.

Turnover fell 29 per cent, to £714.8 million from £1.01 billion in 2008.

The business took a step back from its regional contracting activities during the course of the year, reducing its workforce in the area by 660.

As a consequence turnover in the division fell by 45 per cent to £307.4 million, from £563.6 million.

The group has instead focused on the expansion of its maintenance and improvement businesses, which now account for 58 per cent of the total Rok turnover.

The company has 83 per cent of its 2010 target revenue already secured and an order book of more than £2 billion.

Mr Snook said: “We have focused on areas where we can offer something really different.
We are very amargin-focused and we have not been driving for volume.”

Rok is extending the scope of its plumbing, heating and electrical business which now covers 40 per cent of the UK.