But 2008 order book already full as food sector keeps retail fit-out specialist busy

Retail fit-out specialist Styles & Wood has seen pre-tax profit plunge by 54% after a tumultuous first half of the year.

In the six months to 30 June 2008, profit fell from £5.2m to £2.4m as the company felt the impact of the retail slowdown.

Turnover dropped 18% from £149.8m to £123.1m, and the firm made 80 redundancies over the period - higher than original estimates of 45.

Ivan McKeever
McKeever: "retailers affected by lower consumer spend defer store investment decisions"

Ivan McKeever, Styles & Wood chief executive, said: “The current market conditions continue to challenge our business as retailers affected by lower consumer spend defer store investment decisions and exert pressure on their supply chain.”

On the upside, McKeever said that the firm's order book for 2008 is now full. “We have a figure of 94% secured but we know where the remaining 6% is coming from.”

He also said that there has been no slowdown among the food retailers. “Our focus on the food sector is providing some protection from the current economic climate and we are concentrating on maintaining and developing our customer relationships.”

Cost savings from the 80 redundancies are expected to be 20% and McKeever said that decisive action had been needed to “create a business capable of flexing with market conditions”.

The first half of 2008 also saw the departure of Neil Davies, former chief executive, and Gerard Quiligotti, former executive chairman, after a failed management buyout.

The failure of the buyout plan was due to a lack of funding. The weak state of the market saw the group issue two profit warnings in five weeks.