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Atkins posts 31pc profits jump

Consultant Atkins has posted a 31 per cent increase in annual profits and says it is confident of increasing margins in the year ahead.

In its annual results for the year ending March 31, the group recorded a pre-tax profit of £91.9 million – up from £70.1 million the year before.

Revenue was also up by 11 per cent to £1.3 billion, which the firm said was de to sustained growth in the Middle East and strong demand the UK’s energy and transportation markets.

An economic downturn has seen activity levels in the UK construction industry drop to historic lows this year, but Surrey-based Atkins has enjoyed a steady stream of public-sector and rail and highway maintenance contract wins on top of its design work.

Chief executive Keith Clarke said the firm had not seen any indication of a reduction in activity in the year to come.

He said the company’s main challenge for the 2008/09 year would simply be recruiting skilled staff and remaining in balance.

Mr Clarke added: “We are in line with what we told the market we would do.Our business is good, and the results show that.

“Our biggest challenge will be recruiting staff, and not just staff but good staff. Remaining in balance is also always an issue.”

Atkins’ headcount experienced significant growth over the year, with the addition of an extra 1,400 workers to its 15,900-strong team.

The board this morning also announced the appointment of Dr Krishnamurthy Rajagopal as a non-executive director. Dr Rajagopal’s prior roles include non-executive director of Dyson Group and chief executive of BOC Edwards.

Mr Clarke said: “Our markets remain strong and as the group continues to improve its services. We are confident that the group will achieve further good progress in the year ahead.

“We continue to review further opportunities to add to the depth and range of our technical skills and invest in the sustainable growth of the group.”

In its results, Atkins said it had started the year with a robust order book which included the naming of the ConnectPlus consortium as provisional preferred bidder for the 30-year M25 motorway widening DBFO contract.

Mr Clarke, who said the company would look to continue to increase its headcount in the year ahead, added: “While there is of course uncertainty about the future direction of some of the economies in which we operate, we have not seen any sign of reduction in activity.

“Climate change is becoming a significant issue for many of our clients. We are working actively to raise awareness, develop tools and engage with clients to help them respond to the complex requirements of a carbon critical economy.”