Balfour Beatty says Scotland is ‘more resilient’

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SCOTLAND is proving more resilient than other parts of the UK, Balfour Beatty said yesterday, as the construction giant posted a fall in annual profits.

The firm, whose contracts north of the Border include putting a vast new roof on Edinburgh’s Waverley Station, also outlined plans to sell most of its businesses in mainland Europe to focus on expansion in Australia and elsewhere.

Incoming boss Andrew McNaughton said he wanted to “put some pace” into predecessor Ian Tyler’s strategy of looking beyond UK construction for growth.

Annual results showed that underlying profits fell 7 per cent to £310 million on a 1 per cent dip in turnover to £10.9 billion. A final dividend of 8.5p will provide a full-year pay-out of 14.1p, up 2 per cent on the year before.

The group warned that UK construction would continue to be challenging amid a slowdown in private sector work. Mike Peasland, chief executive, construction services UK, said: “In terms of UK regions, I think Scotland is faring better than many other parts. There’s a visible pipeline of work coming through which suits our business but the general construction market for mid-sized contractors is still tough.”

“There was this anticipation that the private sector would soak up the public sector shrinkage in terms of investment and that’s really not happened. The commercial markets outside London haven’t come through.”

The group, which has six offices and about 1,500 staff in Scotland, reported a “mixed” year in Australia, which has been earmarked as a key focus area.