Rok chief executive Garvis Snook said this week that he planned to treble the number of its regional outlets in the next three to five years.
He intends to do this by expanding into the regions where the company does not have a presence. Snook said the expansion would be achieved through acquisition and organic growth. ROK now has 27 branches, primarily in the West Country, and the north and south of England.

He said: "Our outlets carry out low-risk, low-profile building and maintenance work for the local community. We want to open outlets all over the UK. We want to become the UK's local builder."

The group reported a 67% rise in pre-tax profit to £11.4m for the year ending 31 December 2003, an increase from £6.8m in 2002. Turnover rose 72% to £380m from £221m in 2002. It acquired regional contractor Llewellyn in August 2002.

Snook said he placed great emphasis on retaining staff because of the skills crisis facing the industry. He said this was a crucial factor in the success of his business.

He said: "We think Rok is an exciting place to work and we are trying to create an environment that sets us aside from other businesses as a place where people want to work."

Rok chairman Bob Carlton-Porter said the labour force was ageing and recruitment and training had failed to keep pace. He said he expected to see continued consolidation in the sector, with financially strong groups that could provide good training and opportunities taking the lead. He said: "Rok intends to remain a consolidator in this process."

Carlton-Porter said Rok was well placed financially to take advantage of acquisition opportunities that might arise.

He said: "The UK building economy remains strong, especially in the regions. It's buoyed by continuing demand from the public sector in health, education and housing."