Sir Robert McAlpine has reported fall in profit of more than a third as its margins tightened last year

New US Embassy

In its accounts for the year to 31 October 2012, the contractor reported 8% fall in revenue from £742.8m to £687m, with operating profit down 36% from £19.1m in 2011 to £12.3m last year. This gave the contractor an operating margin of 1.8%, compared with 2.6% the previous year.

But the firm is predicting a boost in turnover in 2013 after winning a host of high profile jobs in London.

Overall the contractor’s holding company Newarthill reported total group turnover, including share of joint ventures, of £769.4m, down from £845.5m the previous year.

The group’s pre-tax profit rose slightly from £20.1m to £20.5m.

The firm said its headcount remained stable, with 1,963 employees compared with 1,956 the previous year.

It said its average payment period for its supply chain was 31 days.

The group said it held £266m in cash and deposits, down from £301m the previous year.

The firm said: “In a difficult market the company continued its strategy of pursuing work where margins adequately reflected the inherent risks of the project and where our skills and experience can differentiate us from our competitors.

“The result of this approach is another successful year and continued confidence in the future operations of the company.”

The firm said it expected to see a rise in contracting turnover in 2013 after picking up major contracts in London and the south east, adding that “this improvement [is] expected to continue beyond 2013 with our order book also increasing”.

Last year Sir Robert McAlpine scored a number of major London jobs, including the £550m Bloomberg HQ job and the £650 US Embassy contract (pictured) as well as the £350m redevelopment of Centre Point and the £750m development on the site of the former Middlesex Hospital in Fitzrovia.

The firm said:  “Although the UK construction market remains challenging, our strong balance sheet, stable and significant cash balances combined with negligible borrowing … continue to leave the group in an excellent position to exploit profitable opportunities as they arise.”