Products group optimistic about contracts in 2008 after spending £12m on acquisitions last year

Landscape products group Marshalls has predicted a positive outlook for 2008 and said 2007 results will match expectations.

It said the outlook for 2008 in its public sector and commercial market, which represents more than half its total sales, is positive based on data about recent contract awards.

In its domestic market, installer order books from the latest survey at the end of October 2007 covered 9.9 weeks ahead of 9.1 weeks recorded in 2006, which it said was “encouraging”.

Marshalls' revenue from continuing operations for the year ended 31 December 2007 increased 7% to £403m, from £378m in 2006.

Sales to the public sector and commercial market were 7% ahead of 2006 and sales in the domestic market were slightly ahead, having been particularly badly affected by unusually wet weather in June and July.

The company said it invested £12m of capital for acquisitions in 2007, and would continue with its strategy by investing a further £14m to boost organic growth.

Most investment has gone into its natural stone business. It bought a business in North-east England and Scotland to widen coverage in sandstone walling and reconstituted stone walling and also invested in a walling stone plant in West Yorkshire.

In aggregates, it acquired a quarry in the South-west and has invested in a sand and gravel deposit near Manchester.

It has also doubled the number of facilities around the country for its Premier Mortars business which supplies ready-to-use mortar in small quantities direct to building sites.

Marshalls will announce its results for the year ended 31 December 2007 on 7 March 2008 and expects them to be in line with expectations.