Chris Chivers, chief executive of specialist heritage contractor Killby & Gayford, has said procurement officers are “increasingly twitchy” about giving work to medium-sized firms

Speaking after unveiling solid results for the year to 31 December 2008, Chivers said more clients were asking for performance bonds.

He said: “It’s a minor irritant but doesn’t stop us getting work. Bondsmen have their own financial issues and when I compare us to them I know who I would bet on being here at the end of the recession.”

Killby & Gayford boosted turnover 14% from £76m to £86.9m in 2008, which Chivers said was the result of an emphasis on repeat business.

Pre-tax profit climbed from £2.9m to £3.4m, which pushed the profit margin up from 3.9% to 4.1%. Net debt at the year end was £14.3m, which the company cut by £2m in 2008.

Killby & Gayford’s clients include the royal household and its projects include the £1.3m Royal Academy of Music in London and the £1.25m Bedford magistrates’ court. Earlier this year it worked on the refurbishment of 10 Downing Street.

It’s like having sex. For some builders it’s ‘wham bam’ but others ask ‘how was that for you?’

Chris Chivers, Billby & Gayford

Chivers said the heritage market was holding up well in the recession. He said: “We haven’t seen any marked change. Churches are still finding money to do work and inquiry levels are as good as ever.”

But he was in more regular contact with clients than was usual last year to ensure that relationships were maintained. He said: “It’s like having sex. While for some builders it’s a quick ‘wham bam’ others ask ‘how was that for you?’ or ‘what can we do better next time?’”

He described 2008 as a year of consolidation for the company, which is 45% owned by investor Close Brothers Growth Capital after a £15m management buyout in September 2007.

The company also does fit-out work and Chivers said there was scope for growth in the food retail and education markets.