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Wrekin back in black for first half of 2005

FINANCE - After boardroom shake-up and a loss in 2004, Wrekin returns to profit

SHROPSHIRE-based contractor Wrekin returned to profit this year after collapsing to a £2.8 million loss in 2004 following 12 months of boardroom turmoil that led to the controlling Frain family reasserting its grip on the business.

The firm was back in the black in the first six months of this year despite taking a £3.9 million hit from bad design and build jobs in 2004, which contributed to the company's loss.

Managing director John Worthington described last year as 'difficult'.

Wrekin did push turnover up £12 million to £114.3 million last year and a restructuring by Mr Worthington, a former Jarvis employee who replaced John Evans as managing director late last year, produced a £1 million pre-tax profit in the first half of this year compared to a £2.9 million deficit a year ago.

In the first six months of 2005, Wrekin also edged workload up £2.1 million to £59.4 million.

The restructuring has included job losses but a focus on five divisions ? built environment, civils, utilities, rail and regeneration ? operating out of Shifnal, Raunds, Bradford, Bridgend, Rhyl and Runcorn.

In the first half of this year Mr Worthington also thrashed out a new business plan with the board two months after the departure of Mr Evans in early December.

Mr Evans' departure came after ex-Birse man Stephen Hallett was brought in to replace Brian Newall as chairman.

Within weeks of Mr Evans ? on gardening leave until last month ? leaving, operations director Rob Mackay also quit.

In June this year two more directors, Geoff Martin and Tony Moss, also left the family-owned business.

Mr Hallett has also vacated the chairman's seat and been replaced by Simon Frain, a previous chairman and chief executive of Wrekin.

A former chairman of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Mr Frain stood down in 2001, due partly to ill health, and was replaced by Mr Newall.