The firm was particularly successful in the Middle East

Atkins’ strategy of diversifying into growing markets led to a 7.5% jump in underlying profit in its year-end results. The company’s underlying operating profit increased from £110.4m last year to £118.7m for the year ending 31 March 2011.

Outgoing chief executive Keith Clarke said the results “represented another good year” and positioned the company for growth. Despite difficult market conditions, turnover grew by 12.7% to £1.56bn.

The consultancy was particularly successful in the Middle East, where diversification into infrastructure and the recovery of debt helped push profits up by 70%. Atkins is currently working on the Etihad railway and Jeddah airport projects in the region.

The company also added 2,000 staff to its payroll, largely through the acquisition of US consultant, PBSJ.

The outlook was less promising in the UK, where staff numbers fell to 9,640 from 10,387. Clarke said there would be no further staff cuts.

He said: “Material growth in this segment will be difficult in the near future. Our focus remains on managing headcount, cost reductions and niche acquisitions.” 

Atkins announced recently that Clarke would step down next month after eight years, making way for Uwe Krueger.