Repair and maintenance specialist Rok is looking to bring more work in-house by buying small plumbing, heating and engineering companies

The firm said it was looking to increase the number of people in its plumbing, heating and engineering division to 900 within the next two years.

Ashley Martin, Rok’s finance director, said the division, which currently employs 600 people across 16 regional offices, would expand that capacity to about 36 regional offices in two years.

Martin said: “We’re pretty much covered now geographically, so there’s not so much need to look for acquisitions. The one area we might look is small plumbing, heating and engineering firms.”

Martin said Rok didn’t envisage expanding its turnover hugely in the area, but would aim to improve margins by taking work in-house.

The news came as Rok released preliminary results for the year to December 2009 showing profits rising threefold to £17m. Turnover declined by almost a third, from £1bn to £715m as revenue from new

build activities dropped by 45% and the business refocused on repair and maintenance work.

Rok added that it had 85% of its 2010 revenue “secured or probable”. Garvis Snook, its chief executive, said the firm’s maintenance and improvement businesses now accounted for 58% of Rok’s revenues and 83% of its profits.

The company spent £5m restructuring the business in 2009, but said it would reap savings of £18m a year.

Martin added: “In terms of new build construction, the pricing is intense and we don’t think we’ve reached the bottom of the market yet.”