Contractor ISG InteriorExterior has poached two senior directors from rival Miller Construction to boost its national presence

The company, which is listed on the alternative investment market, has hired Craig Tatton to be managing director of the regions, based in Manchester. In a second appointment, Joe Webb will join as a director of the regions.

David King, chief executive of ISG, has identified Manchester, Edinburgh Birmingham and Leeds as areas in which to expand the business.

Tatton and Webb are joining the company at a challenging time. Shares dropped 14% on Tuesday after ISG announced a 65% drop in pre-tax profit to £1.2m for the six months to 31 December 2004.

The fall was blamed on project delays and the fact that the firm is undertaking more new-build and refurbishment projects rather than fit-outs. These take an average of 18 months to complete, rather than nine months more typical for fit-outs.

The company has stopped bidding for PFI projects. “We continue to research ways into this market, especially for schools,” said King, “but the priority will be to ensure that investment levels and risks to the business are minimised.”

King said that the company had passed a “low point” and was “quite taken aback” that the City had reacted badly to its results despite being warned about the situation in a December trading update.

He added that he was optimistic about the future because the order book was £574m, compared with £316m at the same time last year.

In terms of the regions, King said: “We have been in the regions for six or seven years, but only in the fit-out market, so we will be expanding.”

King said the company was looking at regional acquisitions. Work in London comprises 85% of ISG’s workload at the moment. He blamed the closure of its Reading office in January on expansion in Manchester.

Tatton was based in Miller’s Manchester office, where he was director of major projects. Webb was formerly based in Miller’s Midlands office, where he spent three years as business development director.

To replace Tatton, Miller has promoted Gordon Kew. Stephen Swain, a former Mowlem man, will replace Webb.