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Durkan doubles up as delayed schemes pay off

FINANCE - Contractor and house builder to double homes output in the next 12 months

THE UK arm of Irish contractor and house builder Durkan delayed private developments last year due to the depressed housing market, but still virtually doubled profits.

In the year to January 2006, Durkan made a pre-tax profit of £6.2 million, against £3.4 million a year ago.

Chief executive Danny Durkan said: 'We delayed a couple of schemes in London due to the housing market and the profit from that will be in this year's results.

'The house building side is ramping up and this year we'll see a significant jump.

'A lot of our schemes are flats that are going for between £265,000 and £300,000.' Durkan only sold 60 homes last year, but expects that f igu re to double in 2006.

The group's contracting arm turned over £75 million from building social housing for housing associations ? up from £53 million a year ago.

The company, which employs over 300 people, also has a private-sector housing arm, Durkan Pudelek, which performed 'satisfactorily' during the year.

At an operating level, Durkan Holdings made a profit of £6.8 million ? up from £3.6 million in 2005 ? and the group is working to a margin of 6.2 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent a year ago.

Waltham Cross-based Durkan raised turnover £17.7 million to £109.5 million and the only barrier that Mr Durkan sees to growth is a lack of skills due to the 2012 Olympic development in east London.

Mr Durkan added: 'We set ourselves a business plan to be doing in excess of £250 million within three to four years. We should meet that, but we'll turn work down if we haven't got the resources.

'It's a question of attracting the right people, but what happens in east London will have an impact. When the Olympics work starts, it will be at a ferocious pace.'