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ROK prepared to buy its way to UK expansion

ROK Property Solutions will hit the acquisitions trail next year as it looks to move out of its southern base and into the Midlands and beyond.

The firm wants to open more offices across the country as part of a growth strategy aimed at boosting margins in its contracting business to 3 per cent.

Chief executive Garvis Snook said: 'We are constantly offered a lot of businesses. What I'm interested in are underperforming businesses. We want to grow organically but, if we are to reach our targets, there will have to be acquisitions.'

ROK bought private contractor Llewellyn last year for £16.25 million and Mr Snook immediately began a cull at the firm, which saw 150 people lose their jobs.

He said: 'It was a great business but there were too many directors. I would love to find another half-dozen Llewellyns.'

The restructuring helped push operating margins at ROK Build up from 1.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent in the six months to June 30.

Mr Snook said some parts of the contracting business were already hitting 3 per cent.

Turnover at the group rocketed 157 per cent to £172 million, largely because of the Llewellyn deal. Pre-tax profits leapt 94 per cent to £3.4 million.

ROK will introduce a new retirement savings plan in October after consultation with its 1,300 strong staff next month.

The firm announced this week that Ashley Martin will become its new group finance director in September. He joins from media group Tempus.