Contractor Mowlem expects to be affected by the slowdown in the retail sector, which looks set to continue throughout this year.
Mowlem chief executive John Gains said: "I suspect that the retail sector won't be as strong this year, and we are already seeing signs of that at Mowlem."

But he dismissed speculation that economic uncertainty was creeping into the market because of a possible war with Iraq.

He said: "The government has predicted an increase in infrastructure spending and Mowlem's order book looks good in 2003 and beyond. We haven't felt any impact of financial uncertainty."

Mowlem won large contracts from supermarket chains Tesco and Safeway last year.

Gains also predicted that the company would win work in the wake of its £450m facilities management contract with HSBC, agreed last year.

He made his comments as Mowlem posted results for the year to 31 December 2002. Pre-tax profit rose 17% to £36.5m and turnover increased £232m to £1.93bn.