Private construction outfit Miller Group aims to increase its construction margins, which stood at 1% last year.
Chief executive Keith Miller said the construction division, which made a pre-tax profit of £3.1m on turnover of £318m for the year to 31 December 2000, had plenty of room for improvement.

Miller said: "We need a pick-up in construction margins. I would like to see improvement coming through on the back of negotiated contracts." Miller said 80% of the construction arm's £650m order book was negotiated work, which would help to lift margins.

He said that the group was examining future public–private partnership school projects in Scotland, such as those in East Midlothian and Strathclyde, after landing contracts in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The group's pre-tax profit increased 20% to £20.6m on turnover of £509.4m. Turnover was £497m in 1999.

Miller said the group intended to develop its housing operation in the North-west, the Midlands and the South-east.

This follows the acquisition last year of three firms: John Lynch, Birch and Crest Nicholson Residential (Northern), which led to a 62% rise in its housing turnover to £159m.