The UK arm of Swedish contractor Skanska has revealed that its sales fell in the first quarter of 2005 compared with the same period last year.

The construction sales and operating income dropped almost 30% to SEK 2.1bn (£164m) and SEK 72m (£5.5m) respectively. This was partly explained by project write-downs in the last quarter of 2004. In its annual results reported in February, the company said it had taken a £52.5m charge on a liquid natural gas contract in the UK.

Chief executive David Fison said that, despite the fall, the company was in a solid financial state because its UK order book was up 35% to £1.24bn, excluding projects where it had been named preferred bidder.

The UK business made a £5.5m profit in the first quarter, representing 3.4% of sales and in line with the 3.3% of sales for the same period in 2004. Fison said a 3%-plus profit was enough to reinvest in the business.

During the period, David Myers was appointed managing director of the mechanical, electrical and hard facilities management business and Keith Marr was made managing director of Skanska’s in-house design operating unit.

Skanska as a group reported a 2% fall in sales compared with the previous year, to £1.66bn.

  • At its annual general meeting on Tuesday, support services group WSP said trading in the first quarter had been strong. It said its core markets looked positive and it had been boosted by its appointment as lead consultant on the £350m redevelopment of New Street Station in Birmingham city centre.