The engineering consultant plans further expansion in Europe after reporting 33% profit rise

An upturn in the UK commercial property market helped construction group WSP to deliver a 33% rise in pre-tax profit.

Pre-tax profit rose 33% to £12.1m, up from £9.1m for the first six months to 30 June. Turnover increased 19% to £216m from £181.8m. The consultancy group’s order book grew to £625m, compared with £540m for last year’s interims, a rise of 16%.

Christopher Cole, chief executive of the firm, said: “The property sector in the UK, US and Scandinavia have been the biggest drivers of this growth.”

WSP has expanded aggressively this year. It boosted its operations in the Gulf region with the acquisition of LC Consulting Dubai, the structural engineers. WSP Environmental, its green arm, acquired a foothold in Australia with the acquisition of three specialist environmental businesses – Ark Consulting, Responsive Environmental Solutions and ESH Connect Australasia. It also launched WSP Energy, which provides advice energy and climate change.

Cole is on the look-out for more acquisitions in an effort improve the company’s European coverage. “We’ve very few businesses in mainland Europe so we’ll be focusing on acquisitions to change that,” he said.

David Turner, the WSP chairman, said he was pleased with the firm’s financial performance and was upbeat about the future.

He said: “Our unique multidisciplinary service that we offer, will ensure our participation in projects and a continuing increase in our market share. I look forward to the group delivering strong performances and improved shareholder value.”

Results at a glance

  • £12.1m adjusted profit before tax

  • £625m secured order book (+16%)

  • £215.6m revenue (+19%)

  • 6.2% EBIT margin (+9%)

  • £10.4m operating cash flow (+33%)