Paul Swinburne – Services’ Senior Finance Business Partner – reflects on Severn Trent’s 2021

We can now reflect on Severn Trent’s 2021, and looks forward to some exciting developments on the horizon.

It was nice to see a strong set of results announced by Severn Trent PLC for the six months to 30 September 2021. Our group turnover was in line with expectations, up 8.0% following the recovery in non-household consumption post lockdown restrictions and Group PBIT (Profit Before Interest and Tax) was up 13.8%.

Environmental leadership

Our environmental ambitions remain centre stage, whether it be investment in river quality, planting trees or reducing carbon emissions. As part of the recent COP26, Severn Trent signed up to the Get Nature Positive initiative, set up by the Council for Sustainable Business to help protect and restore nature. We also pledged to restore more than 2,000 acres of peatland across England and Wales by 2025, building on our existing plans to create a more sustainable future and in line with our Net Zero plans.

Services growth

Within Severn Trent Services we continue to push forward with our growth strategy. We’ve had some pleasing recent successes regarding new contract wins for our Water Hygiene business, forging strong partnerships with some of the large national facilities management providers. Our property searches business, Severn Trent Searches, has been busy servicing the demand driven off the back of the stamp duty holiday, and operational excellence across our Aquatrine contract with the Ministry of Defence remains the key focus to ensure a great customer service is delivered whilst driving the financial performance of the business.

Our own environmental focus reflects the wider Severn Trent ambition. It’s great to see the progress our new business ‘Oren-Services’ is making, promoting the use of reedbeds as a natural filtration system. Not only is this a cost-efficient way for businesses to treat wastewater through the use of wetland configurations, it also has the added benefits of reducing the carbon footprint and enhancing the local biodiversity. It is believed a healthy reedbed absorbs more than ten times the carbon than a neglected one (reeds not weeds!). The picture below shows the replanting of a reedbed at one of our Coal Authority sites where we dug out the old reed bed to the correct operating level, laid new gravel and media and then planted new reeds.

Diversity and inclusion remain a priority across the wider organisation, including our support for the #10000BlackInterns programme next year. As a leadership group within Severn Trent Services, we’ve had a couple of thought provoking sessions on this topic which has got us all thinking about the subject matter in different ways.

And finally…

As we move into the winter period, Storm Arwen was a timely reminder as to some of the challenges we will face over the next few months. The impact of the storm on our operations was largely a result of the power failures experienced by many in the North East. But the amazing news is only one of our customers had their water supply affected by the storm. This is a testament to all the planning and preparation that takes place before winter every year. It’s a particularly demanding period for our field-based staff, so let’s hope the weather is kind to us over the festive period so everyone gets the opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and family.