Kingspan chief Murtagh sees no future for any new national Covid-19 lockdowns           

Gene Murtagh says cost of another national lockdown will be "unacceptable" to the economy 
Kingspan chief Murtagh sees no future for any new national Covid-19 lockdowns           

In June, shares soared 8.5%, to value Kingspan at over €12.6bn. Picture: Larry Cummins

Gene Murtagh, the chief executive of Irish buildings materials giant Kingspan, said Ireland and governments everywhere will find it difficult to sanction further national lockdowns because of the unacceptable economic costs. 

Mr Murtagh was speaking after Kingspan unveiled earnings generated during the crisis months and reopenings from worldwide sales from its insulated panels and boards across the world that were much better than expected, as construction sites reopened. 

Net profit fell to €147.5m in the six months to the end of June from €173.2m a year earlier, as revenues fell 8% to €2.1bn. The shares soared 8.5%, to value the company at over €12.6bn.    

However, he also said that despite a pickup he was wary about the prospects for the UK economy as it faced the dual costs of Covid-19 and Brexit. 

It will be difficult for national governments everywhere to sanction any new widespread lockdowns. “My own view is that I do not believe it is the most considered approach. In Ireland, I am not sure we got the commensurate benefit from locking down completely,” he said.

He said any future outbreaks should be met with restrictions that were more sector-specific because the cost of fully closing down economies was too large.

In terms of paying for the crisis, “the idea that there is not a day of reckoning from this is unjustified”, he said. “A more practical approach will be necessary next time out.” 

Mr Murtagh said he was cautious about the prospects of the UK economy as it fights against the fallout from Covid-19 and Brexit. Orders had improved in recent weeks, but “for the UK, we would be bracing ourselves for a fairly bumpy ride for the foreseeable future”, he said.

April and May were “cataclysmic” but as markets opened up Kingspan tapped pent up demand for a very strong June, while July and August were “steady” compared with a year earlier, he said. Kingspan had taken swift action in reining in costs in March at the onset of the crisis.

Mr Murtagh said the focus on France and Germany, which account for 25% of revenues, had been vindicated. 

Davy said the results “were far better than expected”, while Goodbody said the first-half performance was “stellar”.

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