PROFITS at Eric Wright's parent group, Henmead, slipped as the Lancashire-based contracting and property company expanded into new areas.
Results filed at Companies House show group pre-tax profits fell to £4.5 million from £5.9 million in the previous year despite turnover edging up to £134 million from £126.5 million due to a rise in workload at Eric Wright Construction.
The firm said: 'The policy of diversification into other areas of exper tise of construction has been a major driving force behind this successful year.
'Expertise in complex urban residential schemes now contributes significantly alongside commercial, retail, health, education and leisure.' Turnover at Eric Wright rose to £101.2 million last year from £87 million last time. The business closed three NHS Lift contracts with a total value for £38.5 million and entered 2005 with a record forward order book of £57 million.
Group operating profits rose to £9.5 million from £8.4 million in 2003 but a surge in operating expenses offset the increase. Henmead does not break out profits for subsidiary companies but did disclose that the civil engineering operation turned over a record £23 million ? up from £17 million in 2003.
Henmead is majority-owned by founder Eric Wright, who upped his wages by £400,000 to £1.8 million last year. Mr Wright owns 51 per cent of Henmead but has given 49 per cent of the business to a charitable trust and plans to donate his remaining shares in the company on his death.
Henmead also owns property development business Maple Grove, which forward sold a development in Chorley for £6.2 million and completed a £20 million scheme in Kendal.