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Shrinking workload leaves Barr at a loss

FINANCE Stadium specialist suffers as ITV Digital collapse leaves football clients penniless

FAILURE to win new work has bushwhacked Ayr-based Barr and left the contractor nursing a thumping loss for the second consecutive year.

The firm shed £5.8 million before tax in the year to March 2002 after losing £2.6 million in 2001. The latest deficit has taken a chunk out of the group's equity, which has sunk £5.1 million to £22.2 million.

A Barr spokeswoman said: 'During the year to March 2002 and for a period thereafter, the company experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining a satisfactory level of workload.

'Obviously, this gave rise to the disappointing results for the period to March 31, 2002.'

Barr specialises in stadium work, particularly for smaller football clubs, but the collapse of ITV Digital and its deal with the Nationwide League left a number of potential clients with major financial problems.

Barr was forced to walk off a £6.6 million stadium project for AFC Bournemouth in autumn 2001 after the football club rejected invoice payments.

Barr finally returned to the job this month after agreeing to take only £700,000 of the £1.2 million owed, including £465,000 up front.

The firm is confident that this payment and a more successful period since last March will improve trading for the current year.

The spokeswoman added: 'In recent months, Barr has successfully tendered for many projects, particularly in the design and build sector throughout Britain.

'This favourable construction workload - as well as a marked increase in turnover in quarrying, precast concrete manufacture and steelwork fabrication - has given rise to a situation whereby satisfactory results are expected in the 12 months to March 2003.'

Barr's turnover was virtually static at £112.1 million in 2002 as the firm scrambled to make a gross profit of £3.4 million, down from £7.3 million in 2001.

But operating losses deepened £3.2 million to £4.4 million.