A STRONG performance from social housing subsidiary Cruden helped construction conglomerate Headcrown offset a poor year at Browns, another contracting arm.
A return to the black at Gee Construction also contributed to a pre-tax profit of £7 million at Headcrown in the year to September 2004 - up £396,000 on the previous 12 months.
Headcrown chairman Gerry Camamile said: 'Browns has suffered in the year under review from the loss of a serious number of its personnel to a newly established construction company.
'These personnel losses have been replaced to what Browns believes to be their advantage but in the meantime trading has been affected adversely.
'Furthermore one major contract, which is completed, ran into areas of dispute and difficulty with the client.
'Consequently Browns has had a very poor year and is undergoing a period of recovery.'
Headcrown does not break down results for individual companies but booked a loss of £375,000 for bad contracts at one subsidiary.
Income from long-term frameworks at Cruden and a record year at another subsidiary, developer and contractor JF Finnegan, helped Headcrown raise turnover to £180.5 million from £163.8 million in 2003.
Mr Camamile said: 'The group policy is to pursue a spread of activities across the office, retail, industrial and residential markets, which limits exposure to any one sector.
'Coupled with prudent policies in respect of workload procurement and the purchase of development land, this gives the management confidence that the increase in year-on-year profitability will continue.'
Overall operating profits at the group, which employs more than 600 staff, turned in at £6.5 million.This was down £881,000 on the previous year's total, which included an exceptional profit after one subsidiary sold a development site for £983,000.