Increased profitability in construction helps slimline Henry Boot boost underlying pre-tax profit by 18%.

Pre-tax profit of £5.2m for the six months to 30th June 2004 at contractor Henry Boot was 18% higher than the adjusted profit for the same period in 2003.

Henry Boot said that the contracting activities remained firm in the first half of the year, and said that it had secured a satisfactory level of new work for the current year. It said that education, prison, local authority and national health sectors provided the company with its most important clients.

In 2003 Henry Boot sold its housebuilding, training and Scottish construction businesses to refocus on property and construction. The company said that investor demand had helped fuel activity in the retail property sector. It is currently developing schemes in Ayr, Nottingham, Bromley, Blackburn, Frome, York, Walthamstow, Doncaster and South Shield

The firm said that the distribution and large sheds market also remained “very active” and it had a number of projects in the pipeline.

Chairman John S. Reis said: “Generally, our markets remain strong, and the company’s overall gearing position at less than 4% can only be considered healthy, leaving substantial scope to achieve further growth in profitability as our property and land trading activities increase."