PEARCE has burst back into the black after pulling out of the Government's costly ProCure 21 health initiative.
In the six months to October 2005 the Bristol-based contractor revived with a pre-tax prof it of £1 million on turnover of £69.4 million.
Colin Forrest, who took over as chief executive in December last year, said: 'In the second half of the year there will be lower volumes of work but the same overheads.
'A full-year profit in the parish of £700,000 will be a good result in that context.'
The drop in volumes is due to Pearce's reliance on retail work. The principal retailers have let less work in the run-up to Christmas.
Mr Pearce is changing this emphasis on retail work and is trying to re-establish the business as a regional cont ractor.
He added: 'Pearce saw itself as a national retail contractor that did a bit of building around Bristol.' The firm's interim profit, which gives the business an operating margin of 1.5 per cent, compares with a pre-tax loss of £1.6 million in the 18 months to April 2005 on turnover of £229 million.
After Mr Forrest took over, Pearce changed its accounting period and he expects the firm to turn over £128 million in the year to April 2006.
As part of a new three-year business plan, profits are expected to be flat in 2007 as Pearce re-establishes itself but to rise to just short of £1.4 million by 2009, when workload is forecast to hit £170 million.
The management of Pearce, led by then chief executive John Rackstraw, bought the business from house builder Crest Nicholson in 2002. Mr Forrest joined Pearce last spring from Rok and prepared his new strategy before replacing Mr Rackstraw, who becomes deputy non-executive chairman.
n See page 20 for an interview with Colin Forrest