Without joint ventures and associates the firm would have made an £1.4m operating loss

Construction and property group Pochin has been hit by the global market downturn, with turnover falling from £116.5m in 2007 to £115.2m this year, and pre-tax profit sinking to £1.7m - a fall of more than 80% from last year's £9.1m.

More worryingly, the UK-based group made an operating loss of £1.4m before its finance income and share of profit from joint ventures and associates were taken into account.

Pochin has reorganised its contracting division, but declined to say whether it had reduced its headcount. Its residential development wing has slowed to almost a complete standstill, with just four reservations carried forward into the new year, down from 21 in 2007.

Richard Fildes, chairman of the group, said: “Dramatic recent events in financial markets make commenting on the group's current prospects unusually perilous. The current year requires careful cost control and due regard for the importance of maintained liquidity.

“The group's prudent approach to speculative development, and its strong balance sheet, will prove increasingly important until improved market conditions begin to be re-established.”