1 February 2021
("Renewi", the "Company" or, together with its subsidiaries, the "Group")
Third Quarter Trading update
Renewi plc (LSE: RWI), the leading international waste-to-product business, announces its trading update for the period from 1 October 2020 to 31 December 2020 ("third quarter" or the "period").
Overall trading for the Group in the period was robust and the Board's expectations for the year ending 31 March 2021 remain unchanged
Continuing resilient trading in our Commercial Waste Division, despite further lockdowns across Benelux, offset temporary delays to ramp-up of ATM volumes
Strong cash performance, ahead of our expectations, with leverage reduced to 2.2x at 31 December 2020, from 2.7x at 30 September 2020
Key value driving initiatives progressing well
Long-term drivers for sustained future earnings growth remain positive
Trading and cash performance
The Commercial Waste Division maintained full operational capacity in the period. Volumes fell back marginally as new lockdowns were introduced in November, with the overall impact on volumes in December less than half of that seen in the first lockdown in March/April 2020. Volumes in the Netherlands were 98% of prior year in the third quarter vs 97% in the second quarter and 94% in the first quarter. Ongoing strong construction and bulky waste activity offset the expected weakness in hospitality and retail. Volumes in Belgium were 92% of prior year in the third quarter vs 91% in the second quarter and 76% in the first quarter. Cost actions remain ongoing and recyclate prices were higher than anticipated in the third quarter, particularly paper.
Mineralz & Water Division performed as expected across most business lines. The ramp-up of production of treatment of thermal soil in the final quarter will likely be lower than originally planned as we still await final sign-off of anticipated outlets for thermally cleaned soil (TGG) and as the new storage silos for filler are installed and commissioned during February. This is not expected to have a material impact on the three-year recovery plan for ATM, including the accelerating transition to the sale of upcycled filler, sand and gravel, in place of TGG.
Specialities Division performed in line with expectations.
Cash performance continued to be strong, benefitting from robust working capital management which is expected to unwind partly at the year end. Core net debt (excluding IFRS 16 lease liabilities) at the end of December was €323m, representing a reduction of €58m since 30 September 2020 and leverage has reduced to 2.2x, with significant headroom against the Covid-adjusted covenant of 6.0x. Days sales outstanding (DSO) remained unchanged on prior year and levels of customer insolvency continued to be low, reflecting ongoing government support for affected business sectors. We continue to expect a working capital outflow going forward, including placement of ATM TGG and an increase in DSO.
Overall trading for the Group in the period was robust and the Board's expectations for the year ending 31 March 2021 remain unchanged.
Longer term, whilst the speed and extent of economic recovery will influence our performance, waste volumes have historically been resilient through cycles and the transition to increased recycling will continue to support our business model. The sustainability agenda and the potential for a "green recovery" supported by the EU and national governments are expected to present attractive opportunities for Renewi to convert waste into a wider range of high-quality secondary materials. We remain confident our three strategic growth initiatives - recovery of earnings at ATM, the Renewi 2.0 programme and our innovation pipeline - will deliver significant additional earnings over the next three years and beyond.