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Rok closes commercial property arm

Rok is closing its commercial property arm after a £2.9 million loss blemished an otherwise strong set of half year results.

The market was caught out by the news with broker Panmure Gordon saying it had expected a more managed exit. It said it expected the shares to tread water for a while.

The building and maintenance services company reported £547 million revenues for the first six months of the year, up 37 per cent on the same period last year. Pre-tax profits were up 22 per cent to £12.9 million. Its margin remained unchanged at 2.4 per cent.

The company reported long term framework contracts worth £2 billion, up 25 per cent on last year, much of it in social housing and education.

Revenues in the commercial property business fell from £35 million in the first half of 2007 to £14.7 million this year.

Chief executive Garvis Snook funds released by the closure of the commercial property business “will be used to make further acquisitions to underpin our core building and maintenance businesses”.

He added: “We also expect to extend our core building and maintenance operations into those geographical areas where we have limited penetration such as South Wales, East Anglia and Northern Ireland.”

Although its new build activity showed strong growth this was mostly through acquisition and Mr Snook said it was scaling back the amount of work in private sector new build.