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Atkins profits rise 11pc

Engineering consultant Atkins has posted an 11 per cent rise in pre-tax profit in the first half of the year.

The group, which enjoyed a profit of £47.5 million for the six months to the end of September, described the results as strong and said it had not experienced any material impact from the economic slowdown.

The rise came as revenue grew by 12 per cent to a total of £710.8 million.

One of its key areas of growth, however, was the Middle East where revenues were up almost 55 per cent on the same period last year.

The group said there was also solid growth in its design and engineering solutions arm – where revenues were up 11 per cent to £202.6 million – as well as its management and project services division.

Chief executive Keith Clarke said: “Whilst we remain attuned to the wider economic situation, the range of our business and its strength in depth gives us continued confidence for the remainder of this year. Looking further ahead, our secure position allows us to continue to invest in carbon critical design and… respond with confidence to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Atkins’ revenue from its rail division was down by two per cent, driven by a reduced level of activity with Metronet following its administration last year.

But profits were up 82 per cent – from £3.9 million to £7.1 million.

The group said: “This improvement in operating margin reflects the continuing recovery of our Network Rail related work and the inclusion of work for London Underground under the new contractual structure.

“A significant portion of our activity this period has been on the re-signalling of the Rugby to Nuneaton section of the West Coast Main Line. Our design teams are also busy, and continue work on a number of programmes including Thameslink, the Scottish electrification programme and the Network Rail Enhancement Programme where we are engaged on a number of projects to increase the capacity of the rail network.”

It said staff numbers had been boosted by 1,000 in the first six months of the year to reflect the company’s growth.

The group's headcount in the Middle East in particular is now up by almost 40 per cent on the same time last year.