Turnover rises 20% to £1.66bn in an ‘excellent’ year for Laing O’Rourke, which aims to be a worldwide player

Contractor Laing O’Rourke declared itself on track to becoming a global leader after releasing impressive results for the last year.

The firm disclosed this week that its profit had jumped 122% to £70.4m for the year to 31 March. Turnover also rose 20% to £1.66bn. Finance director Dennis Johnson described the past year as “excellent” and added: “I would not say we are a company that chases turnover, but rather value. It is managed growth of the company.”

Johnson said the firm was where it wanted to be after it bought Laing’s construction arm for £1 in 2001. He said the two firms had been integrated within a year.

He said: “We are now at a level of financial operation that we set our sights and ambitions to be in terms of performance and efficiency. We are where we want to be and we believe we can sustain it.”

Johnson said the pre-tax profit announced was before bonuses for staff, which were a “substantial proportion of profits”. He said that the group’s cash position was “very good, thank you” and stood at more than last year’s figure of £105m.

The firm was investing heavily in research and development and on safety, he said. “It carries a cost but it’s an essential cost. We believe we can reduce accident rates but still achieve profitability. We have to get that message across to clients.”

We are at a level of operation that we set our sights on

Dennis Johnson, finance director

Director Mark Oliver, who joined the group in February from his role as managing director of technology firm BuildOnline, said: “We want to challenge and change the construction industry. You cannot get there straight away but we are already turning people’s heads.”

Oliver said that because the firm’s service range was so wide, from main contracting to specialist contracting and products, it could increase market share anywhere.

He added that Ray O’Rourke, chairman of Laing O’Rourke, wanted to change the industry by bringing in outside expertise.

In an interview with Building this week, another recruit, Denise Kingsmill, former deputy chair of the Competition Commission, said she would consider it a success if she helped Laing O’Rourke grow into a £5bn-turnover business.

Kingsmill, who will head the group’s advisory forum, said her role would be to look at productivity and managing people.