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Water group made loss in wake of cyber attack

South Staffordshire Plc's turnover topped £350 million in its 2022-2023 financial year but it slipped to a loss, partly due to criminal cyber attack.

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South Staffordshire chairman Steve Johnson

The Walsall-headquartered integrated serviced group, which operates South Staffordshire Water and Cambridge Water, posted a pre-tax loss of £23.1 million for the year to the end of March from a £7.6m profit a year earlier.

Turnover was up from £281.2m to £353.5m for the group, which extracts water from the River Severn at Hampton Loade, near Bridgnorth, and owns the 100-acre Chelmarsh Reservoir.

The losses was put down to the impact of rising costs including on energy and chemicals, higher than expected water production due to the fourth warmest summer ever recorded in the UK and the cyber attack in August 2022 on the company which supplies water to 1.3 million people in the West Midlands.

A statement signed off by chairman Steve Johnson said: "The group's financial performance for the year to March 2023 was characterised by a strong overall trading performance for the group's non-regulated engineering, compliance, service and software businesses where, in particular, new contract frameworks in the utility sector, continued diversification into height safety services and further growth of the group's ground source heating proposition drove revenue growth.

"For our regulated water company South Staffordshire Water, progress on our ambitious infrastructure investment programme continued to secure the future resilience of customer supply.

"Further initiatives to reduce network leakage saw the business hitting its performance commitment reduction level in both regions, and the provision of excellent water quality remained a key strength, with a 15 per cent reduction in the number of customer contracts about the colour, taste and smell of their water. This equates to a total reduction of 42 per cent since 2020-2021"

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