Review of the year
2019 was a challenging year for the Group, with the good progress in our core Benelux Commercial businesses, including a strong final fourth quarter, offset by the extended reduction in output at ATM, our facility in the Netherlands that treats contaminated soil, and underperformance in our Monostreams Division. The commissioning of our waste treatment centre in Derby was also delayed. As a result, underlying profit before tax on a total operations basis was €63.8m which, after significant exceptional and non-trading items, produced a statutory loss of €97.7m.
In light of the reduced performance at ATM, we have taken a number of steps to reduce the Group’s core net debt and leverage ratio, which has peaked following the merger of Shanks with Van Gansewinkel in 2017. These steps include the planned disposals of our Canadian business and our Reym industrial cleaning business, which are well-advanced, and tight control of costs and capital expenditure across the Group. We have also temporarily reduced the Group’s dividend payments.
These actions will increase the Group’s focus on our core Benelux Commercial businesses. Following the successful integration of Shanks and Van Gansewinkel, these businesses enjoy strong market positions and are delivering improving performance underpinned by our continuous improvement and commercial effectiveness programmes alongside the realisation of our planned merger benefits.