Castle View aiming to cash in on cuts in council spending

PUBLIC-sector spending cuts have led mini-conglomerate Castle View International to target a doubling of turnover to more than £150 million as local authorities look to outsource more services.

Filing its annual accounts, revealing a rise in sales but dip in profits for the year to 31 March, the Bridge of Allan-based company - which manages leisure centres and sports facilities on behalf of councils - said it had seen a steady stream of new enquiries since the cuts were announced.

Chairman Frank Bell said the outsourcing of the running of leisure facilities was a "highly attractive arrangement for local authorities".

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Castle View's sports and leisure management arm, which contributes most of the group's turnover, currently runs 65 centres across England and Bell said pressure on council budgets presented opportunities to double group sales within five years.

The division saw growth of 10 per cent during the year with around 1.5 million visits a month from customers.

Major contracts include a new 35m multi-sports development at Basildon in Essex which will help prepare British athletes for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Scots firm will manage the centre for Basildon Council under a 25-year contract.

During the year, the group saw turnover of about 78.6m compared to just over 76m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was 1.13m compared to 1.19m in 2009.

The group's food production business, Cambuslang-based Uin Foods, which manufactures pizzas and snacks for leading supermarkets and employs some 100 people, saw a decline in sales following the loss of a major customer.

Budget supermarket chain Lidl recently launched Pizzapremo, a square pizza developed by Uin which also works with retailers including Morrisons, Asda and Tesco.

Its Supply Direct subsidiary, a food supply and catering consultancy which advises organisations including hospitals and colleges on cost control and menu planning, saw results broadly unchanged on the previous year. The division also provides contract catering staff.

Another subsidiary, Yes Dining, which supplies contract catering services to local authorities in the south of England, saw a fall in sales and was disposed of in August to Bright Futures Group in a deal worth up to 237,000.

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In the year to 31 March, Yes Dining had a turnover of 6.3m and made a gross profit of 686,000.

The total number employed by the Castle View group during the year edged up slightly to 2,528 and the highest-paid director saw their package rise to 153,173 from 146,115 although they also saw a 666,000 contribution to their pension.

Castle View was founded in 1964 by Bell and began providing catering services to businesses before diversifying into other areas.