M&E services group Lorne Stewart will move into the Middle East to help double turnover to £500m by 2012.

In the year to 31 December 2007 turnover dropped 9% to £206m owing to a fall-off in its South-east contracting business but pre-tax profit at the Harrow-based group rose 23% to £7.8m.

Gary Edwards, business development director, said: “We are looking at service and maintenance opportunities in the Middle East and western Europe.”

The push towards £500m will be a mixture of acquisition and organic growth spurred on by what Edwards called a “push into the power and utilities market”.

He said: “We have a lot of people with a power background but who haven’t realised that potential. We’re looking to grow across the whole of that particular market.”

Growth will be heavily focused on the engineering services markets while its M&E contracting market will remain largely flat.

The group said its increased profitability last year was caused by a cut in the number of poorly performing jobs.

The highest-paid director took home £400,000, a drop from last year’s figure of £532,000. Staff levels fell from 1,867 to 1,749 and average pay was £38,000.