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Billington shakes off Brexit as profit jumps

Structural steel specialist Billington has said it does not expect the Brexit vote to hamper its operations this year as its order book remains “robust” thanks to favourable market conditions. 

The Barnsley-based firm, which designs, fabricates and erects structural steel, said it saw “many positive tender opportunities” ahead as it reported a jump in annual profit and sales. 

Pre-tax profit rose 22.6 per cent to £3.8m for the year to 31 December 2016, while revenue increased 11.6 per cent to £63.3m. 

It was the firm’s fourth consecutive year in the black after reporting a minor loss before tax and exceptional items in 2012

“The prevailing market conditions have been steady throughout 2016 and the initial concern surrounding the Brexit vote did not mature in to the drop-off in trade that may have been anticipated,” the company said.

Its jobs in 2016 included work on Ikea in Sheffield and on Interserve’s new head office in Birmingham. 

The firm added that its contracting division had seen a “positive” start to 2017, with projects confirmed until the end of this year and into 2018.  

Billington, which has steel plants in Barnsley and Bristol, said it would look again at expanding its operations into Europe due to the collapse in the value of sterling since the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

The firm said a move into Europe was something it will “continue to review in the coming year”.

It noted that steel prices “increased significantly” in 2016. “These rises have had an impact on the pricing of contracts, and the ability to ensure margins are maintained,” the company said.

“In addition, the market remains competitive, especially on contracts of a relatively simple nature.

“However, larger and more technically challenging prospects continue to be evident in the market and present opportunities to yield an improved margin.” 

Billington reported an operating margin of 6 per cent in 2016, helped by “operational efficiencies”. It said it expected more improvement on margins this year.

Shares in the company were trading up marginally in mid-morning trading today. 

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