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Mabey hawks bridge as US army standard

FINANCE Floating bridge builder in talks to extend supply deal after work with military in Iraq

MABEY & Johnson, the privately owned modular bridge builder, is in talks to get its floating bailey bridge recognised as standard equipment for the US army.

Reading-based Mabey is supplying floating bridges to the US army in Iraq and hopes to expand on this deal.

Richard Glover, Mabey & Johnson's commercial director, said: 'We've been doing some business with the US military in Iraq on an emergency basis and we're trying to build on that.

'Essentially it is a supply contract but we want to make our bridge into the standard piece of equipment for the US military worldwide.'

The firm has two workers in Iraq but Mr Glover does not expect to strike a deal for some time and turnover at Mabey & Johnson, which works mostly abroad, is likely to fall this year.

He added: 'We work in some awkward places, which are becoming increasingly so.'

Mabey & Johnson is part of Mabey Holdings and in the year to September 2002 most of its work came from Asia. But turnover in the region rose just £1.6 million to £103.1 million with the workload in Africa down £652,000 to £2 million.

Europe is the next biggest source of work for Mabey Holdings, with turnover rising £5.7 million to £47.9 million in 2002 while the Americas provided sales of £22.1 million, up £6.1 million.

Modular bridge building and steel fabrication workload rose £9.4 million to £139.9 million in the year to September 2002 and the group's plant arm also grew, with turnover up £2.7 million to £33.2 million.

Group turnover increased to £175.1 million from £162.4 million, with operating profits up £3.6 million at £46.3 million.

Pre-tax profits at Mabey Holdings, which employs around 1,100 staff, rose £2.3 million to £34.1 million.