Consultant redirects resources in response to market crisis, predicting global profits ahead of expectations

WSP is shifting staff away from Dubai as the market there comes to a standstill, the engineering consultant said in a trading update today.

It said that workers in the emirate are being moved to other areas of the Gulf and “surrounding countries” in response to the effects of the financial crisis on the UK-based firm's global operations.

But the board said it has seen “strong organic revenue growth” during 2008 and profits for the year to 31 December should be ahead of expectations.

Jumeira Gardens
Jumeira Gardens, one of WSP's projects in Dubai, which developer Meraas this month said will be scaled down

WSP's order book has fallen by around 5% in the past six months, it said, but remained “well in excess” of £1bn, boosted by public sector transport and infrastructure wins in Sweden and the UK.

The board said: “We are trading in uncertain times; however, WSP is a highly diversified business operating in many different regions and in many different sectors. Where appropriate, we have the ability to redirect our resources to where they are most needed in order to respond to the requirements of our global business.

“In this period of economic uncertainty, WSP is in good shape and we believe our strategy, developed over the last four years, has positioned the group to both address and respond to the challenging market in the period ahead.”

The firm added that it has renewed banking facilities of £150m and is “very comfortably” within its banking covenants.

In a separate statement to the stock market, WSP also announced the appointment of Peter Gill as a director of the company, with effect from 2 March 2009. The former finance director of gaming business the Rank Group will replace Malcolm Paul, who retires from the board in May.

WSP chief executive Chris Cole said he has no plans to stand down before 2012. He said: “We have a strong management team that we continue to supplement, which is appropriately experienced and motivated to enable us to address opportunities and challenges as they arise and to ensure the group's ongoing success.”