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Pochin in black after contracting shake up

FINANCE - Restructuring at contracting arm boosts figures but plant division makes loss

A RESTRUCTURING at Pochin's contracting arm has paid off but the construction group's plant division has plunged into the red.

The Cheshire-based firm, which also operates as a developer, was losing money from contracting two years ago but doubled profits last year.

Pochin's chief executive David Shaw said: 'When we were losing money, we had a long hard look at ourselves and the perception that we were only working for ourselves. It's been a hard marketing period since.'

The plant operation, which bought Raynesway Concrete Pumping for £2.4 million from Balfour Beatty in June, suffered from delays to the Highways Agency's Midas traffic information programme.

Midas is a system of 'intelligent signs' that can detect the speed of passing cars and Pochin's Avoidatrench trenchless digging operation is working on this for McAlpine in the north-west.

Mr Shaw added: 'It wasn't a good year for plant, there's no getting round that.

'Avoidatrench wasn't good and concrete pumping in the first half wasn't clever but there was an improvement in the second.'

Work has started on the Midas project and Mr Shaw expects the plant operation to return to the black.

Overall, the group pushed annual profits up after profits from joint venture activities surged to £3.3 million from just £983,000 a year ago.Part of this income came from a joint venture with developer Bushwing, which Pochin has since bought out.