Groundwork specialist Keller has said the poor weather conditions in Europe and the US over the first two months of the year will hit its 2010 results

In a statement that accompanied its 2009 results on Tuesday, the firm said 2010 would be another challenging year and that its order book was 14% below the same time last year.

The group described most of its markets as “severely depressed throughout most of the year”. As a result, turnover fell 13% from £1.2bn to £1.04bn and pre-tax profit slumped more than a third from £113.2m to £74.7m. Keller’s profit margin fell from 9.5% to 7.2%.

Justin Atkinson, chief executive, said: “Despite a general shortage of contract awards, resulting in intense competition and tighter pricing, good overall contract performance and our firm cost control mitigated the impact on the group’s operating margin.”

The group, which only turns over £58m (2008: £85m) in the UK market, said its policy of geographical diversification was paying off, with 26% of turnover coming from Australia and emerging markets.

The independent companies that make up its UK operation have been restructured to win larger jobs and the company said this led to its securing a piling contract for Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road tube station.

Keller said commercial and residential markets in the US were weak, and that turnover there fell from £532m to £467m; in the Middle East it said it had seen “signs of the markets stirring” in recent weeks.