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Stalled retail schemes to provide ‘grey at the end of the tunnel’ for Cyril Sweett

Cyril Sweett is targeting around 30 major retail schemes across the UK which could start on site next year, according to chief executive Dean Webster who this morning unveiled a mixed bag of results.

Retail, health, commercial and hospitality provided the bulk of the group’s falling UK revenues with energy and infrastructure identified as vital growth markets.

Overall group revenues were up £7.2 million to £72.8m, with pre tax profits up £0.2m to £2.3 driven by a “better than expected” performance in Asian markets.

But the European division comprising the UK, Ireland, Spain and France and accounting for 61.3 per cent of group revenues saw a £6.7m fall in revenue and a £900,000 dip in profits, down to £2.6m.

Mr Webster said the reduction in revenue was predominantly in the UK and was “hardly unexpected in the current market”.

He told CN:  “We are seeing some grey at the end of the tunnel in the private sector and we are beginning to make moves in the energy and infrastructure market.  Our order books now have pretty much flattened off so it’s a question of whether we can maintain them at these levels and generate some growth growing forward.”

A push to redevelop and regenerate in market towns across the country will provide much of the group’s UK work next year, Mr Webster said.

“The grey at the end of the tunnel we are seeing is a desire to get moving again and we are expecting some of the schemes we are working on to go on site this year - we are looking at about 30 different shopping centres,” he added.

Group strategy to expand in international markets continues at pace after an exceptional performance in China, following the acquisition of QS Widnell last year.

Mr Webster said he was pleased with overall group performance given the challenges in the market and he argued the 11 per cent increase in revenue “demonstrated that our diversification strategy is really starting to pay dividends”.

The group order book is up 44 per cent to £84m, of which 57 per cent is outside of Europe.

Mr Webster said the company would continue to target acquisitions overseas but said it was possible some specialist bolt on companies in areas such as new nuclear, renewables and water could be acquired in the UK.

Results were hit by £1m of exceptional items which chief financial officer Chris Goscomb said were made up of £700,000 of restructuring and redundancy costs, £200,000 exciting a lease in Brisbane and £300,000 of provisions for work in Libya and Egypt.

Mr Webster said the “Arab uprising was not helpful” but said work in Saudi Arabia remained strong while Dubai and Abu Dhabi had fallen away.

“Going forward we will concentrate on Saudi and Kuwait”, he said.

He also confirmed plans revealed by CN on Friday to rebrand the company over the course of this year to become the Sweet Group.

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