Overall turnover in group also rises 48% to £271m but chairman complains that margins are ‘still very tight'

Pre-tax profit at Mace leapt 20% last year, buoyed by a strong commercial property market and its facilities management business.

The contractor and consultant made a £6.2m pre-tax profit in the year to 31 December 2005 as it completed an air traffic control tower at Heathrow airport and the Royal Bank of Scotland's headquarters in Edinburgh.

It is also understood that Mace has just been appointed by Stanhope on two schemes in London, at 23 Savile Row in west London and the DIFA Tower in the City, but Mace chief executive Stephen Pycroft declined to confirm this.

Pycroft said the company's expansion into fresh sectors such as water and roads had now been completed. "We have diversified as far as we are going to. Now we are focusing on a better quality of service and repeat business," he said.

He added that the business would not be seeking to offer fresh services but would instead strengthen those it had, including project management, design management, contracting, pre-construction engineering services, construction management and facilities management.

Pycroft said the firm had made most progress in the facilities management business, where turnover rose by more than 200%. Turnover overall rose 48% to £271m but Pycroft said that margins were "still very tight".

About £180m of Mace's turnover was generated within the contracting business, which is made up of private sector work.

The remaining £90m comes from consulting: about £22m of that is local government work with the rest focused on the private sector. Mace secured 71% of its planned order book for this year in the first two months of the year.

Mace is on a shortlist of four for the delivery of the 2012 Olympic Games in London in a consortium with Laing O'Rourke, Davis Langdon and CH2M Hill. Pycroft said it expected to be told this week when the "competitive dialogue" would begin.

Mace at a glance

Year to 31 December 2005

Pre-tax profit: £6.2m (+20%)
Turnover: £271m (+48%)
Profit after tax: £4.3m, to be reinvested in the business