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Mace upbeat in face of crunch

Shard of Glass builder Mace has said it expects to remain busy for the rest of the year despite the effects of the global credit crunch.

The firm, which is currently tying down subcontract packages on its £350 million deal to build the 310m high building near London Bridge, admitted the crunch would affect many of its clients.

But chief executive Steve Pycroft struck an upbeat note in a statement accompanying the firm’s 2007 results. He said: “We have been working hard to assist our clients with strategies to mitigate the effects of the credit crunch.

“As far as our own business is concerned the key risk to be managed for the remainder of 2008 is ensuring high rates of utilisation for our staff.

“We are fortunate that, at the present time, the reduced availability of credit has not significantly impacted our clients and therefore our workload for the remainder of the year, which remains healthy.”

The Shard was originally going to be built under a construction management contract – Mace’s speciality – but the firm will now carry it out on a fixed-price contract after developer Teighmore was told by its banks that would only fund it this way.

Teighmore asked Laing O’Rourke to run the rule over the Shard last autumn but Mace came back with a fixed-price offer and it will submit its final costings to the developer by the summer.

Mr Pycroft said its overseas billings had increased by more than a quarter thanks to its work for the Foreign Office on buildings across Europe, Asia and Africa.

Turnover at the Camden, north London, based group rose 43 per cent to £531 million with pre-tax profits up by a similar amount at £10.8 million.

Staff numbers at the group, which is one of three bidding for a £400 million contract to remodel Birmingham New Street station, were up 44 per cent to 2,800.