Kevin Taylor, chairman of McLaren Construction, has said the firm has an £18m war chest to buy struggling rivals

Taylor, who founded the Essex-based company in 2001, was speaking after it posted an 88% rise in pre-tax profit from £1.7m to £3.2m in the year to 31 July 2009.

Last year the company spent up to £810,000 on contracts from failed competitor Verry Construction; these included the £68m Westminster college job in London.

Taylor said: “The Verry deal was typical of the sort of opportunity we’re looking for and I’m confident that this year will continue to see McLaren thrive both in the UK and overseas as we seek to grow the business and embed ourselves as the contractor of choice with our clients.”

Turnover at McLaren was flat at £131m, although the figure next year is expected to be about £150m, which will include the Verry work.

Turnover breakdown
Turnover breakdown

The company said more than £2m in directors’ remunerations was ploughed back into the business, resulting in what it described as “one of the healthiest balance sheets in construction”.

A company statement said: “The Westminster deal reinforced McLaren’s strategy of diversifying into new markets, which has seen the firm pick up work on long-term frameworks including Building Schools for the Future and the Royal Mail’s £300m new-build and refurbishment programme.”

It added: “Acquisitions have also enabled McLaren to further establish itself in diverse market sectors. In particular, successful projects have been completed in the residential, hotel, multistorey car parking, retail and civil engineering sectors.”

The company also hinted it would seek to do more work overseas, particularly in the high-end hotel fit-out market.

Finance director John Bailey recently said the company would look at plans to break into the UAE and said it had not been put off by reports that the financial bubble had burst in the region.