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Tolent caught off balance as fit-out shortage hits income

FINANCE

A SLUMP in fit-out work took its toll on Tolent with turnover at the Alternative Investment Market-listed contractor dropping £28 million.

This was due mainly to the firm's inability to find a replacement for a major fit-out job carried out in a joint venture with rival Interior for investment bank Goldman Sachs.

But the fall in turnover to £126 million did enable Tolent to lift operating margins to 2 per cent, with pre-tax profits up £200,000 to £2.6 million.

Managing director John Wood said: 'We entered 2003 with a healthy order workload including the Sage project in Newcastle upon Tyne and an order book of £90 million.

'Due to unforeseeable delays in 2002 there was no contribution from our joint venture office development in the south-east of Leeds. We hope there will be some contribution from this 15,500 sq m development in 2003.'

The firm wants acquisitions in niche contracting but the drop in fit-out work, which generally produces higher margins, reduced the firm's cash balance by £4.3 million to £16.6 million.