Engineer says £77m pre-tax profit is a 'robust performance' given global economic downturn

Engineering giant Arup has reported a 4.9% drop in pre-tax profit after significantly squeezing its margin.

The firm posted profit before tax of £77m for the year to 31 March, down from £81m in 2008. Turnover rose by 22.5% to £889m, up from £726m the previous year, while profit margin was down to 8.6% from 11% in 2008.

The firm said it was a “robust performance” given the deterioration of the global economy but warned conditions would remain tough and next year’s financial performance was “likely to be affected”.

Chief operating officer, David Whittleton, said: "With the global impact of the recession, and the rapid slow down in many areas of construction and related design activities, we have been careful to manage the level of our staff resources to match our current and expected future workload. Financial performance for 2009-10 is, however, likely to be affected as a result.”

Philip Dilley, Arup’s chairman, added: "Conditions will continue to be challenging in many of our markets for some time, but our multi-disciplinary capability and global spread enables us to continue to win and deliver high quality projects around the world."

The firm said the year-end valuation of its UK pension scheme had been impacted by the “adverse market conditions” and it was in consultation with staff to move to a new contribution scheme.

About £29m of profit was paid to Arup employees through a profit-sharing scheme.