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Family-owned contractor may go public

Finance

EDINBURGH-BASED contractor Miller Group is considering a stock market flotation in the long term after reporting a 59 per cent rise in underlying profits.

Keith Miller, chief executive of the family-owned company, said: 'We are looking at all sorts of options and flotation is one. There will be a time for extra equity and in the medium and long term we have never ruled it out.'

But he said a float was 'very unlikely' at the moment and the company was currently deriving major advantages from being privately owned. The low valuations in the sector were also deterring the firm from an early float.

A surge in property earnings helped Miller Group push up operating profits before exceptional items to £21.9 million for the year ending December from £13.8 million last time.

The group's property development arm pushed up operating profits by 52 per cent to £15.7 million. The firm now has almost 500,000 sq m of space under its control and has recently bought a portfolio of 46 retail stores from the Co-op for £69 million. It also recently started its first development in Portugal.

Miller's contracting profits rose to £2.9 million from £2.4 million last time on a turnover up by 22 per cent at £302.2 million. The firm has made headway in developing a longer-term income stream and around 80 per cent of its £223 million order book has been won on a partnership or negotiated basis.

Miller has also recently launched an integrated services business and won approved bidder status on a £1 billion Glasgow Schools PFI project.

Elsewhere, Miller's housing profits rose by 19 per cent to £5.6 million. The firm says it is aiming to be among the UK's top 10 house builders. Last year, it spent £36 million acquiring two housing businesses, Cussins Property Group and Lynch Homes.

Mr Miller said: 'We intend to build on our successful track record of consistent profit growth by continuing to develop the market presence and positioning of each of our core businesses.'

Group pre-tax profits rose from £14.8 million last time to £17.1 million after exceptional charges of £2.2 million, largely linked to theacquisition of Cussins.