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Harsh trading conditions have taken their toll on MJ Gleeson. Pre-tax profits at the Surrey-based contractor slipped by 17 per cent to £8.2 million in the half ending June (1992: £9.9 million).Turnover fell by 8 per cent to £168 million as the company complained of 'extremely difficult conditions'. Current prospects in UK construction remain poor and the firm is seeing reduced tender opportunities in the water sector.However Gleeson maintained its dividend and increased its rental income to £5.02 million from £4.6 million. The firm also increased its cash balances by £2.6 million to £16.1 million.The firm has maintained its order book. Significant cuts in overheads included 59 job losses - 7 per cent of the workforce.David Eyres, deputy managing director of Gleeson southern construction division, said the water companies were 'not coming forward with a significant number of large schemes. The spend is definitely tailing off'.Mr Eyres said Gleeson was busy tendering for water work, which generates around 15 per cent of turnover, although the projects were smaller.Elsewhere, Gleeson Homes sold 383 units against 326 last time. Finance director Colin McLellan said: 'We have a couple of good weeks and then suddenly nothing.' CONSTRUCTION NEWS