Construction firm Gleeson will pick a permanent chief executive by Christmas.

Paul Wallwork, interim chief executive, said he expected one to be in place by the end of the year.

He said: “The process is being run by the nominations committee but I expect they would have come to a decision between now and Christmas.”

Wallwork, previously Gleeson’s financial director, has been interim chief executive since Terry Massingham stepped down in July. He is one of the candidates under consideration.

The contractor also said it had reduced losses to £3m for the year ending 30 June, compared with £17.8m the year before. The company believes it will be able to return cash to shareholders this financial year.

Wallwork said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the results. They mean that the management can focus on the day-to-day running of the business.”

Gleeson has undergone radical restructuring to reduce its losses. Earlier this year it decided to focus on housing regeneration, land trading and commercial property development, instead of traditional housebuilding and civil engineering.

The recovery position: Gleeson’s share price over the past 12 months
The recovery position: Gleeson’s share price over the past 12 months

Now we can focus on the day-to-day running of the business

Paul Wallwork, Gleeson

The disposal of Gleeson MCL and Concrete Repairs helped generate profit after tax of £9.6m. Year-end net debt fell to £14.7m, from £102.3m on 31 December, and revenue was £386m.

Wallwork said the company would continue phasing out its traditional housebuilding work and selling off PFI assets.

Proceeds from last month’s sale of the civil engineering business to Black & Veatch for £36m will appear in next year’s figures.

This year has also seen Gleeson fend off a takeover attempt from Castle Acquisitions, a private capital firm. Wallwork admitted it was more vulnerable as a more focused company but added: “We are no more exposed than a traditional housebuilder.”

The results were in line with market expectations. Shares were unchanged on the day at 362.5p.

Separately Gleeson has appointed Terry Morgan, the chief executive of Tube Lines, as a non-executive director.