Mowlem is on the look-out for acquisitions after a 26% jump in its pre-tax profit to £39.4m in the year to 31 December 1998.

Chief executive John Gains said the company had spent £14m on buyouts in 1998 and was looking to up the tempo in 1999.

He said: "We did not find enough suitable opportunities in 1998. We still have the resources to do much more and make significant acquisitions when the right opportunities arise." Mowlem's turnover grew 7% to £1.49bn in 1998. Construction activities and services made up most of this, contributing £1.04bn to turnover and £12m to operating profit.

Mowlem's Aqumen facilities services division struggled during the year, with turnover falling from £141.8m in 1997 to £130m in 1998.

Gains said this was primarily because of a drop-off in Ministry of Defence work, and that new management was expected to improve prospects this year.

  • Pre-tax profit at SGB, the scaffolding group that demerged from Mowlem in 1997, rose £5m to £21.9m in the year to 31 December 1998. Mowlem retains a 51% stake.