Contractor's profit rises 76% thanks to mega-projects and rapid growth overseas

Laing O’Rourke has reported a 76% leap in profit despite UK market conditions as it continues rapid growth overseas.

The contractor has grown turnover by 21.5% to £4.24bn in the year to 31 March 2008. This included a 23.8% leap in turnover in the Middle East to £0.42bn, and a 115% increase in Australasia to £0.58bn.

The company also reported a record order book of £10bn and said it had a strong cash position at £477m, with committed but unused banking facilities of £170m.

Tony Douglas, chief operating officer, said that the company was continuing with its strategy of 20% growth year on year, with much of this likely to come from the Middle East market where the firm’s schemes currently include work on the $20bn Al Raha Beach project in Abu Dhabi.

He said: “With mega projects of that scale, we will see continued growth in the area. The quality of the projects also allows us to direct some of our best talent to the region.”

Douglas added that Laing O’Rourke’s recently announced restructuring as a “total solutions provider”, designed to position it around key individual project managers and give it a greater presence in Bechtel-style programme management, was “going very well.”

He said: “We have made great progress, and are attracting phenomenal talent. Strategically, this repositioning will help to differentiate Laing O’Rourke in the market.”

Ray O'Rourke

Ray O’Rourke, chairman and chief executive, said: “Our hub-based business model, coupled with the skills of our directly employed workforce, has ensured flexibility to respond to changing macroeconomic circumstances in each of our operational units. This approach has exposed the group to the considerable growth stories in each hub while de-risking the group from the vagaries of any one market.”