Engineer's half-year profit sharply down despite 4% rise in revenue, following 1,000 redundancies last year

Engineer WSP has made 1,000 jobs redundant in the last year, the firm said today. The news came as the company announced that half-year profit fell by 40% on 2008.

It said the group's global headcount had dropped from 10,000 to 9,000 since the same point last year, with most of the losses in the UK and Middle East. It added that it did not expect to see any improvement in the “difficult” private sector markets both in the UK and the US.

Profit before tax for the group was £17.2m, including exceptional items, compared with £28.4m in the same period the year before, while revenue increased 4% to £376.9m.

The fall in profit was partly due to an exceptional addition of £6.4m the previous year because of the group's Swedish pension scheme, as well as to restructuring costs of £4m in the last six months.

Chris Cole
Cole: "sound financial results in a difficult business climate"

However, the firm said net debt had risen in the last six months from £56.2m at Christmas to £75.1m, in part because of a slowdown in getting paid for work in the Middle East, and by “private clients more generally”.

The biggest decline in revenue was in the UK property division, the group said, with a 27% fall, resulting in £1.6m of restructuring costs.

Chris Cole, chief executive, said: “The diversification of our business across many sectors and regions has enabled the group to deliver sound financial results in a difficult business climate.

“The group is well financed and we believe that its diversification and reputation, together with its experienced, talented and committed workforce, means we are well placed to trade through the current economic environment and to take advantage when the market improves.”