Benson Group expects a rise in turnover to bring it back into the black after a £700,000 loss in 2002
Alistair Sloan, the contractor's managing director, said he expected sales to total £132m this year, a rise of 22%.

Sloan attributed the improvement in Benson's fortunes to the reorganisation of its south-eastern division, based in Reigate, Surrey. This office lost £2.5m last year, was closed and then reopened under a new management team. Rob Leitch, formerly with Wates, is now the division's managing director and Ashley Ward, from Willmott Dixon, is commercial director.

Although Sloan declined to comment on the likely profit for the overall business this year, he said it should achieve a margin of 2-3% within five years and a turnover of £300m.

These targets were part of a 10-year strategy instigated in 1998, when Sloan led a management buy-in of the business. At that time, the company's turnover was £14m.

Sloan said he had always expected his first five years to be difficult, but that the following five would be "about getting everything much better".

Benson intends to open a northern construction division in Manchester in the first quarter of next year. This will be run by Keith Watson, a former Bluestone executive who will combine the job with his present position as managing director of the Midlands office.

Sloan said he wanted the northern business to make a turnover of £70m within 10 years. He added that the Midlands division would run at a turnover of about £25m, up from about £15m this year.

Benson's south-west division, which has a turnover of about £34m, will open a second office in Reading next year. This will run the contracts that the firm has won in the Thames Valley area.

In July last year, the company set up a maintenance business, called Benson Property Services. Its turnover is currently £3m, but management want to split it into six or seven units, each projected to earn about £5m.