Henry Boot managing director Jamie Boot this week admitted that the group was resigned to making construction and civil engineering margins of less than 1%.
Boot said stiff competition for construction work was squeezing the margins of the Sheffield-based firm. It posted a pre-tax profit up 9% to £12.2m for the year to 31 December 2000.

He said: "I'm not being overly optimistic about raising construction margins, but every little bit helps. If you're very lucky you might make 1%." This compares with the 9% margin in the group's housing division.

He said that tender lists were not as large now as in previous years, but the companies on them were still fighting hard to win the work.

Despite the difficulties in construction and civil engineering, group turnover for the year to 31 December 2000 increased 10% from £205m to £227m.

Boot said the housing division was going well and demand in the market was still strong. The average price for the 650 houses sold increased from £89,200 to £96,136.