Consultant is confident region will recover and liquidity problems will ease

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 cashflow problems in the region that have affected a number of UK companies, particularly consultants.

Announcing its results for the six months to 30 September, the company said: “We are 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 market liquidity issues are resolved.”

Despite the tough economic climate, it 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, ending the half-year with net funds of £231m compared to £165m in 2008. Staff levels fell 11% 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 by 65% in China from £19.6m to £32.3m.

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