Pre-tax profit at Kier rose 10% to £55.5m from £50.6m last year, largely thanks to its framework deals.

Despite the profit rise, turnover fell to £2.09bn in the year to 30 June 2010, from £2.14bn the previous year.

Paul Sheffield, who took over as chief executive last March, said: “Our construction order books of secure and probable contracts remain robust, much of it won through framework agreements, providing confidence that we can sustain healthy operating margins and strong cash flows.”

Turnover at Kier’s construction division was £1.4bn (2009: £1.5bn) and support services revenue rose to £471m from £438m. Turnover at its housing business edged up
to £158m from £151m.

Sheffield is keen to expand the contractor’s support services operations and it is in the running to buy the compliance and environmental arms of collapsed social housing specialist Connaught, which are being sold by administrator KPMG.

Margins in the construction business stayed at 2.6%, whereas they rose to 4.5% from 4.1% in the support services division. Net cash at the year end stood at a record high of £175m, up from £93m at the same point in 2009.