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Murphy cuts back as profits crash

FINANCE

PROFITS have crashed by a third at J Murphy and the civils contractor is shedding staff to cut its wage bill.

Pre-tax profits sank £5.4 million to £8.9 million in 2005, despite turnover rising £19.4 million to £262.7 million.

The firm said: 'The group is well placed to continue to use its resources in an efficient manner during the current trading conditions and onwards.'

The UK provided most of Murphy's workload with turnover of £236.8 million - up from £218.8 million - and the remainder coming from Ireland, where turnover firmed £1.4 million to £25.9 million.

Workload may have risen but last year Murphy trimmed its workforce by 9 per cent to fewer than 2,500 people and cut the wage bill by £3.7 million to £81.5 million. But pension problems are growing.

In the past four years, Murphy has injected an extra £5.8 million into its pension fund but last year losses on the scheme ballooned to just under £4.1 m illion f rom £543,000 in 2004.