Contractor Willmott Dixon's operating profit rose 25% last year.
Profit rose from £3.02m to a record £3.78m for the year to 31 December 2000, and turnover jumped 12% to £275m – also the highest in the privately owned group's 149-year history.

The record results have been recognised in a national survey of the UK's 100 fastest-growing companies, which placed Willmott Dixon in 89th place with average profit growth of 25.8% (see below).

Chief executive Colin Enticknap said the group's results, released today, were down to its focus on customers, partnering, rather than competitive tendering, and recruiting, rewarding and retaining key staff.

He said: "It may sound like a relatively simple strategy but it's working for us. But we also remain realistic and mindful that we operate in a notoriously cyclical industry."

Enticknap said the group's fit-out, building, housing and building maintenance divisions all performed well. Repeat work accounted for 64% of projects last year, up from 59% in 1999.

London fit-out division Inspace was profitable in its first full year of trading. Enticknap said Inspace, which works in the City and West End, was concentrating on a small number of high-spending key clients.

It’s working for us but we operate in a notoriously cyclical industry

Colin Enticknap, chief executive, Willmott Dixon

But he was cautious about the future, pointing to the general election next month and difficulties in the USA and Japan. He said: "With these things in mind, we move forward with guarded optimism and the firm intention to remain flexible, nimble and responsive."

Enticknap added that the group's move from Mayfair to Letchworth, Hertfordshire, had also paid off. The move was part of a wider strategy to cut costs.

He said: "We're now focusing on sites and branches, the parts that make us money, rather than offices, which don't."

Sir Michael Latham, chairman of Willmott Dixon, said the group was established as the leading partnering contractor in a growing number of customers' minds.

He said: "This modern approach, which provides the ideal environment to deliver improved levels of customer satisfaction, is now ingrained in our business."