Turnover at engineering and environmental consultant Waterman fell 10% from £136.4m to £122.4m in the year ended 30 June 2009

Meanwhile, pre-tax profit fell 63% from £7m to £2.6m as the group revealed it had taken a £2.8m hit for charges that included bad debt overseas and £2.1m for redundancy and restructuring costs.

The group reduced net debt at the year end from £12.5m to £10.2m.

The group cited Russia, the UAE and Ireland as countries where it is negotiating the payment of outstanding fees. A third of turnover comes from overseas.

Nick Taylor, chief executive, said: “It will take time for the economy to recover. Waterman is a diversified business.

“While we are in good shape, with over 55% of our budget revenue for the year ahead already secured and with net debt reduced, the next period in our development will continue to be challenging.”

In the UK, the company said it had diversified into the public sector and energy markets as work dried up elsewhere, although it pointed to a “slight upturn” in the private residential sector.

The company added that it had eyed several acquisition targets over the year but had not done a deal due to the volatility of the global economy.