Social housing specialist Lakehouse more than doubled pre-tax profit in 2009 and is hunting for acquisitions

In the year to 30 September 2009, pre-tax profit at the Essex-based firm rose from £914,178 to £2m and turnover jumped 36% from £50.6m to £68.8m.

"We’ve had a good result because we ran the business in a much tighter way" Stuart Black, chairman

Stuart Black (pictured, left), its executive chairman, said: “I couldn’t imagine a worse market, but we’ve had a good result because we ran the business in a much tighter way in terms of our central and operational costs.”

This has not included redundancies and average staff numbers have grown 56% from 157 to 245.

With regard to acquisitions, Black said the company was looking at a number of possibilities, with the focus on social housing repair and maintenance firms in London and the South-east.

He said: “We won’t rush in or overpay for anyone and will only do deals where we think we can add some value. We have a very strong balance sheet and no borrowings.” The company ended the year with net cash of about £5m.

Its recent social housing wins have included a five-year deal with the London borough of Camden worth up to £25m a year and a four-year deal with the London borough of Greenwich worth about £5m a year.

Black said the aim was to reach about £100m turnover in 2010 and that 85% of its workload was already secured. “We are bang on plan in terms of our growth targets,” he said.

The company also operates in the education market but Black said growing turnover would not be a problem despite the uncertainties over public sector spending.

“We can’t do anything about the cuts, but the fact is education and social housing will still be among the largest areas of spend and owing to our relatively small size we can still grow the business organically.”