Private contractor aims to double turnover in support services arm, now trading as Inspace, within three years
Private contractor Willmott Dixon merged its five support services businesses today. They will now trade as Inspace, creating a brand with a £100m turnover.

Willmott Dixon believes that this will help it double its turnover in three years. Chairman Rick Willmott said that a stronger brand might prove useful in persuading banks to provided loans if they were required. He noted, however, that the division's margins were slightly higher than those of the company's construction arm.

He said Willmott Dixon might use extra funding to buy another company so that the support services arm could provided a more comprehensive service. Willmott said: "We are considering looking for a facilities management capability."

Inspace has an order book of £325m with clients ranging from Tower 42 to Barclays Bank. Last week it was awarded a £140m contract by Colchester council in Essex.

Willmott said its development business Camtech will start contributing to the company this year, after researching the market for more than two years. It put in a planning application for a residential scheme of 132 flats in east London and it is in talks with social housing providers about joint ventures.

Willmott made his comments after the announcement of the company's annual results to 31 December. Willmott Dixon turned in record pre-tax profit for the seventh year in a row. Pre-tax profit was £4.8m, an increase of 12.7% on 2001.

Turnover rose slightly from £302.2m to £314.6m. Willmott said that turnover was also likely to remain steady this year.

He predicted that the housing business, which had a turnover of £82.4m, would remain strong for at least five years because of the upturn in the market.

The staff incentive scheme operated by Willmott Dixon paid out nearly £2m last year, a rise of 47% on 2001. Despite this being nearly double the share dividend, Willmott said: "We have had no negative feedback from shareholders."

Dividend payout totalled £1.3m, an increase of 12% on the previous year. Willmott said that the dividend, a record, pointed to the fact that the firm was doing well and that there was no need for it go public.