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Morrison records the top margin

MORRISON Construction has recorded the highest operating margin so far this year among the industry's major players.

Fraser Morrison, chairman of the group, said the policy of pursuing non- traditional contracting and joint ventures had paid off with operating margins in the construction division of 4.5 per cent.

Morrison has shifted towards joint venture work to reduce risks on developments and PFI projects. On the house building side it tends to favour joint ventures with local house builders.

Group sales at Morrison rose by 27 per cent to £156 million, due to growth at both its construction and development arms. This was converted into a 40 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £6.68 million.

Despite heavy investment in PFI projects, Morrison has managed to keep net debt down to £7.6 million, holding gearing at 14 per cent. UK construction sales advanced by 14 per cent to £111.5 million, with profits up by five per cent at £5 million.

The development division, doubled turnover to £40.1 million and boosted profits by 177 per cent to £4.4 million.