Support services group Atkins this week revealed a solid set of results for the six months to the end of September, despite a £3m provision on its Metronet investment.

Pre-tax profit at the company rose 5% to £30m during the period but it was held up because of delays to the capital recovery programme of Metronet, the London Underground consortium in which Atkins owns a one-third stake.

Keith Clarke, Atkins’ chief executive, emphasised the fact that Metronet was under a new chief executive, former Jarvis man Andrew Lezala, but recognised there was a lot of work still to be done.

Clarke said: “While progress has been made in the past six months, it will take time to evidence any significant recovery. These issues must be satisfactorily addressed if the returns from Metronet are not to be impacted at all levels.”

However, the news came as no surprise to the City, which had received warnings from Atkins. Shares were therefore relatively unaffected, down less than 2% to 750.5p.

Clarke said the focus of the business was likely to remain within the UK, although he expected further growth in the Middle East where the company already employs more than 1000 staff. He described China as “a significant challenge but also a significant opportunity”.

Turnover during the six months rose 11% to £516m and the interim dividend was increased to 21p a share from 19.7p.