Privately owned contractor’s profit leaps 116%, with turnover climbing 38% on the back of major private finance projects.
Sir Robert McAlpine enjoyed a 116% rise in pre-tax profit to £5m for the year to 31 October 1998, helped by several large private finance initiative projects.

Accounts logged recently at Companies House show that turnover at the privately owned contractor increased 38% to £409.6m from £296.3m.

The results mark a turnaround in the company’s fortunes. McAlpine suffered a contracting loss of £1.5m in 1996. It returned to profit in 1997.

The group says the key to its recent performance was the procurement of some large PFI projects during 1998, which helped it secure £548m of new work, an increase of 68% on the previous year.

The annual report also says that almost two-thirds of the contractor’s work now includes design responsibility, saying “this reflects our commitment to integrated teamwork, taking responsibility and adding value to the design process”.

Construction accounted for 71% of work carried out in 1998. Civil engineering made up the other 29% of workload.

Its more high-profile civils contracts included two tunnelling projects on the Jubilee Line Extension for London Underground. It also built the newly opened North Greenwich Station on the line.

A large proportion of the firm’s civil engineering work came from PFI transport projects, including road works on the A19 in the North-east, the A74/M6 in southern Scotland and a 28 km tram system in Croydon, Surrey.

Much of the company’s building business was for repeat clients, including Nissan, Siemens, Royal Bank of Scotland and the Post Office.

The company says that work in hand for 1999 is “at an encouraging level”.

In recent years, McAlpine’s workload has been boosted by a number of high-profile millennium projects, including the Millennium Dome.

According to the annual report, the dome is “on schedule and within budget”. It says that, despite the project throwing up “new engineering and logistical challenges within an exacting timescale”, it will come in on time and meet its £758m budget.

Other millennium projects include new south and west stands at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow and the Eden project to build giant tropical glasshouses in Cornwall.

McAlpine has nominated Paddy Walker-Taylor non-executive director of occupancy services specialist Interior Services Group, of which it is the largest single shareholder with 17% of its ordinary share capital.

Walker-Taylor, finance director of Newarthill, Robert McAlpine’s holding company, replaces Vince Christie at ISG. Christie resigned last week.