Listed architect turns a pre-tax profit for first time since 2006

Listed architecture company SMC Group has reported a pre-tax profit of £1.57m for the first six months of 2008, up from a loss of £4.9m during the same period the year before.

SMC's return to the black will relieve shareholders after a turbulent 2007 in which the group made losses of more than £5m, parted ways with its chairman, Stewart McColl, saw a potential merger with Aukett Fitzroy Robinson collapse, and was forced to launch a rights issue to raise more cash.

Rodney Walker
Walker: "confident in the platform we have for growth"

Turnover improved marginally, up to £22m from £21.1m in the same period last year. The group's restructuring has seen it slash administrative expenses by 44%, down from £13m in the six months to 30 June 2007 to just £7.2m this year.

It still has £16.7m of net debt, but this has been reduced by £3.6m since December 2007, thanks mainly to the £13m raised from the issue of new shares.

SMC, which owns Will Alsop's practice, said that it had increased its spread of work in the international and public sectors to help combat the market downturn. The public sector now represents 35% of its forward order book, and overseas work 13%.

Sir Rodney Walker, SMC's chairman, said: “We have a high visibility of revenue, with a record order book in place, a diverse client base, sector and geographical spread and are confident in the platform we have for growth.

“We have opened new offices in our Asian business and expect to achieve further benefits of integration through cross-selling and cost reduction. We remain excited about the future and the prospects for the full year.”