Engineering giant cuts staff by 10% in two years but American business thrives

Revenue at engineering giant Mott MacDonald stayed flat in 2010 but the firm managed to squeeze up its pre-tax profit.

The second biggest consultant in the UK posted a turnover of £1.035bn, up 2% from the previous year. But it said most of this was down to exchange rate changes and small acquisitions.

Pre-tax profit grew from £45m to £49.3m largely thanks to cuts in bonuses and pension contributions.

Chairman Keith Howells (pictured below) said the company had been forced to cut staff by 10% in the UK over the past two years, but this had been made up for by growth across the world.

“We saw a downturn in the UK, but offset elsewhere. We’re looking for savings wherever we can,” he said, adding that pensions had been reduced.

“We have squeezed the business, particularly in the UK. Buildings [as a business area] has been very flat for several years [in the UK],” he explained.

“Water has now picked up quite well, but power has been slower to pick up than we expected.”

Five years ago UK business accounted for 60% of Mott MacDonald’s turnover, but now that figure was down to a third, Howells added. Business in the Americas has boomed, with revenue up 12% to £258m and pre-tax profit up by over £5m.

Although half of this growth was down to currency changes, Howells said the business had expanded strongly in Canada and in the US.

Revenue in Asia Pacific and Australasia grew by almost a third but stayed flat in the Middle East and South Asia.

Directors were paid £3.85m during the year, down slightly from £4m in 2009, with the best paid pocketing £802,000.