Atkins has reiterated its long-term intention to stay in the Middle East, despite the region’s current liquidity problems

It follows well-documented payment and cash flow problems that have affected UK companies, particularly consultants.

Announcing its results for the six months to 30 September, the company said: “We’re confident that the Middle East market will recover and plan to maintain our long established presence in the region. We remain committed to working with our clients as the liquidity issues are resolved.”

Despite the tough economic climate, Atkins reported only a small fall in turnover, which dipped 1% from £711m to £701m. Pre-tax profit fell 13% from £38.8m to £33.9m. Its cash position improved – it ended the half-year with net funds of £231m compared with £165m in 2008. Staff levels fell from 18,322 to 16,235.

Turnover in the Middle East fell 4% from £82m to £79m and the operating margin fell from 10.6% to 8.3% on the back of a 25% fall in operating profit to £6.5m.

But turnover was up in other parts of the world, rising 65% in China from £19.6m to £32.3m.

Keith Clarke, Atkins’ chief executive, said: “Our performance demonstrates our ability to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace and to flex our resources to meet expected demand.”