Ocon, the Manchester residential contractor, has reinvented itself as a student accommodation specialist in response to the recession

In documents filed at Companies House for the year ended 30 September 2008, it said the policy had allowed it to keep turnover relatively flat last year – down 3% from £95.6m to £93m.

The company said: “The market for building works has shrunk dramatically over the latter half of the financial year with private sector clients reappraising their development programmes. Despite this, the company has positioned itself as the biggest provider of student rooms in the UK.”

The company made a pre-tax profit of £485,180 over the year, down from £1.6m in 2007. The subsequent margin drop from 1.7% to 0.5% was blamed on restructuring costs following the resignation of two directors.

It said: “The benefits of the restructure are expected to be seen in the coming years in terms of improved profitability and a significant reduction in overhead.”

Ocon is part of property group Opal, which is owned by Ocon chairman Stuart Wall. Work from its parent accounted for 60% of turnover.

The company ended the year with net assets of £2.2m and brought in enough cash to lend money to its parent. The salary of the highest paid director rose from £59,376 to £155,444.