The group said the move was part of a strategic shift that began after a management buyout three years ago. The drive is being overseen by overseas director Tony Ferrett.
Chairman Chris Booy said he wanted to widen the firm's services at three offices. These are Leeds, which specialises in environmental services, Birmingham, which specialises in health and safety, and Manchester, which covers transport.
Booy said: "Until now we've been seen as predominantly operating in the South. We want to co-ordinate a broader base of services at the northern offices, including project management. We are recruiting people there on a much more aggressive scale."
He added that the firm had restructured its overseas division, which operates in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He said: "We are now working for European and US clients investing into overseas countries rather than local clients. The problem is getting paid."
Booy was speaking after the firm posted its latest annual results. Its pre-tax profit for the year to 31 December 2001 was up 44% on the previous year. Turnover grew £6.6m to £54m.
Booy said the firm expected to make a pre-tax profit of £3m in 2002, which was his target when he bought the group from French parent Dalkia in 1999. He said: "A lot of people talk about it, but I think we are actually achieving it – getting long-term relationships with good clients. It leads to more profits and more fun."
Booy said the firm was focusing on high-profile projects such as Wembley, a £300m port terminal at Dibden, Southampton, and the £235m synchrotron science facility in Didcot, Oxfordshire.
He said: "We like landmark projects; they're a good way of improving our profile. I cannot afford a £1m marketing budget, so these projects are good for us."
Booy said the only disappointment for the firm was the drop in the commercial market in central London.
The firm moved into a new office, which it built on the outskirts of Bristol last month.