Warning comes despite contractor’s profit rising 73% on £150m sales increase

David Lawther, ISG chief evecutive, has warned that revenue growth from sectors such as food retail, banking and its fit-out businesses in the UK and Europe will not necessarily lead to margin growth.

Speaking after the firm released its first half results, he said: “The market place is very competitive. Some of our customers are mature businesses, such as the retailers, which is reflected in margins”.

He said that while a number of high-profile commercial schemes have been restarted in London, it will be about two years before this translates into significant work. Lawther said: “There will be no significant recovery in the London fit-out market until 2012/13 as this is when the projects will be nearing completion.”

ISG’s turnover grew to £635m in the first half of its financial year, compared with £483m a year earlier. Its profit before tax rose 73%, ending the half at £4.5m, compared with £2.6m in 2009.

The firm will target the fast growing Asian market for bolt-on acquisitions as it diversifies away from the UK.

“We are seeing strong demand in the Asian market and it represents a good growth opportunity as we work with major retail businesses there, such as Apple, Ugg and Armani,” Lawther said.

As part of this strategy, it has already agreed financial terms for the acquisition of a small fit-out business in China.

Revenue in its construction division remained relatively static, at £248m, compared with £244m in 2009. The company’s reliance on the public sector for work has also reduced.