Consultant says figures are in line with expectations despite a slowdown on the water engineering side

Engineering giant Atkins said revenues for the first quarter of the year were broadly level with last year's take, despite a “significant” slowdown in its water engineering business.

The £1.5bn annual turnover firm said in an interim management statement it had begun the financial year “in line with expectations” overall, despite the fall in water engineering income and the continuing “soft” nature of the UK design market overall.

The 18,000-strong firm said it had reduced headcount “accordingly” but did not give figures, having already laid off 1,200 staff last year.

Atkins said its energy, highways and transportation and rail businesses had all started the year “well”, despite the loss of a major contract with Network Rail.

Conditions in the Middle East remain “challenging”, it said, although it has started receiving payment for some jobs.

The statement said: “We continue to be well placed to navigate through challenging conditions in a number of our markets and the overall outlook for the group remains unchanged.”