Chief executive Beardsmore says flotation and acquisitions are not on the agenda for now.
Mansell chief executive David Beardsmore says the firm has put major corporate activity on the back burner after the failure of merger talks with Lovell late last year A flotation, which would have accompanied the merger, has been postponed indefinitely and Beardsmore wants Mansell to spend 1999 consolidating its business.

He reported a pre-tax profit hike for 1998 of 9% to £5.2m, after exceptional items, against a 230% rise in turnover to £421m. The discrepancy between the two figures is partly explained by the £308 000 paid to consultants hired to advise on the failed merger.

Further costs arising from the integration of Midlands-based Hall & Tawse, bought in November 1997, also contributed to the fall in profit.

For the coming year, Mansell will focus on increasing its market share in its current range of business.

This includes the continuing development of prime contracting with the Ministry of Defence, Egan demonstration projects for Whitbread, and working as part of BT’s “diversify” procurement process.

“We think we can do a lot more of the type of business we do now and we will achieve it through the principles of lean construction,” said Beardsmore. Hopes of reviving the Lovell deal, which fell through in December, are now dead. “The opportunity has passed and what killed it was the City’s anti-construction sentiment and their failure to come up with the goods at the eleventh hour,” he said.

Beardsmore said the experience had not put him off the possibility of further acquisitions: “If there’s a business case, we’ll go for it,” he said.

But he ruled out a possible flotation on the grounds that the industry was too unfashionable to reap just rewards.

“There is no pressing need to float. Firstly, there is the cost of being listed, and then the fact that you can end up with a complete lack of liquidity, which make the flotation pointless,” he said. He dismissed the chance of buying another company to enhance the group’s social housing capabilities – a key driver behind the failed Lovell deal.

“We believe we can expand our current skills to move ahead in social and partnership housing,” he said.

He also explained why executive director Geoff Bell had left. “We had a very different view on which way to go forward and we felt he would be better moving on,” he said.