Muir in the black for 37th year, but fears clouds on horizon

MUIR Group, the Fife-based construction firm, yesterday maintained its 37-year run of unbroken profits - but warned the next 12 months might be the "toughest yet for the industry" with "too little work for too many contractors".

John Muir, chairman of the family-owned business he founded in 1974, revealed a 48 per cent jump in pre-tax profits in the year to 31 January to 2.6 million as Muir Homes returned to a profit of 1.2m having just broken even in 2010.

The result came despite turnover falling to 73m from 78m. Job numbers were held at 312. Muir said: "Unsurprisingly, it has taken a great deal of effort to post profit in these still uncertain economic times.

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"On the Muir Homes side, we are continuing to offer shared-equity deals and incentives to attract new buyers. The market is finally moving.

"We are confident enough to make a return to the large luxury villas for which we are best known and have recently launched a development at Upper Tillyrie in Perthshire."

But Muir warned that, even though turnover at the group's contracting business had remained steady at 50m over the course of last year, he expects margins to come under further pressure this year. Muir also hailed the success of energy-saving measures at the group's Inverkeithing base, including installing what he called the largest collection of solar cells seen in the Central Belt on the roof of its Muir Timber Systems unit.