Shift in formation gives Robertson a lift as it targets north of England

Bill Robertson, chairman of Robertson Group
Bill Robertson, chairman of Robertson Group
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ROBERTSON Group, the Elgin-based construction company, yesterday said it was seeing the benefits of a major reshaping of the business as it continues its push further into England.

The family-owned building group, one of the North-east’s biggest private companies employing more than 1,000 people, saw turnover increase by 16 per cent to £268.7 million in the year to 30 March.

Chairman Bill Robertson, who founded the group as a 21-year-old in 1966, said the restructuring of the business following a strategic review last year was “clearly having a positive impact”.

The move has seen the company, which sponsors Elgin City football club, branch out from its traditional house-building areas to also focus on sectors including infrastructure and facilities management.

Exceptional items, including restructuring costs, saw profits fall at the pre-tax level from £6.5m to just £709,000 but operating profits before exceptionals rose by £4.3m to £5.6m.

Borrowings fell to £50.1m from £56.2m the previous year and the company said the figure had continued to reduce significantly since the end of the financial year.

Robertson Facilities Management, the largest employer in the group with 600 staff, now has a £1 billion forward order book covering the next 20 to 25 years.

The group’s housebuilding and property development arm has focused on social housing and regeneration opportunities.

Several housing association projects have been completed and Robertson is also part of joint venture company, Urban Union, which is currently working on a multi-million pound regeneration scheme for Glasgow City Council which will create some 300 homes in its first phase.

Robertson is involved in bidding on a further two regeneration projects in central Scotland with a combined value of about £150m. Outside of Scotland, projects include the £23m Spanish City redevelopment in Whitley Bay.

The group’s construction arm, which is about to complete the £110m emergency care centre at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, saw “excellent sales and profits growth”.

The division’s north of England business won its first projects in Cumbria and an 
office opened in Manchester.

PFI projects handed over during the year include hospitals at Perth and Stracathro as well as schools in Hull and Newcastle.

Its timber engineering division is currently supplying frames for two hotels in Cambridge and Vauxhall in central London.

Robertson said the total group order book, at £1.5bn, was as strong as it has ever been.

“This visibility in our order book in conjunction with the inherent strength in our balance sheet provides us with confidence for the group in the short, medium and long-term,” said Robertson.

“It is particularly pleasing to see that we continue to enjoy high levels of repeat business from a loyal client base whilst at same time developing new client relationships.”

A strengthening of the group’s board saw a financial director and a business development director recruited in the past year.

The number employed by the company rose to 1,064 from 1,039 and the highest-paid 
director received £412,000, down from £550,000.