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Profits slide 6pc at WS Atkins

Design and engineering firm WS Atkins has said pre-tax profits slipped nearly 6 per cent after a year in which it cut staff numbers by 10 per cent.

Restructuring and increased pension costs impacted on the group’s performance as pre-tax profits fell to £96.6 million from £102.7 million a year earlier.

Atkins said it performed well at an operating level in the year to March 31 but warned the uncertainty caused by UK spending cuts meant it was prepared for a period of tighter Government spending.

The Epsom-based firm, which works on a host of major projects including the London 2010 Olympic park, said it expected to benefit as clients put greater emphasis on planning and design disciplines to achieve maximum value.

It responded to lower market demand by reducing staff numbers in the financial year from 17,400 to 15,600, while also redeploying 500 people into different roles. The restructuring cost the company around £16 million.

Recent contract wins have ranged from a 10-year road maintenance deal with Oxfordshire County Council worth £350 million to its appointment as architect engineer in a consortium to build an experimental fusion reactor in the south of France.