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Construction giant Gilbert-Ash sees turnover soar to more than £117m with a string of major contracts

By John Mulgrew

Published 10/08/2016

Gilbert-Ash projects include The British Embassy in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago
Gilbert-Ash projects include The British Embassy in Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago

Construction giant Gilbert-Ash has boosted its turnover by 60% in the space of a year - rising to more than £117m - buoyed by big contracts in Great Britain.

The Belfast-based company said securing a string of "high-profile contracts in the UK" have helped the firm increase its sales.

But while pre-tax profits also increased at the company, they remained modest at just over £200,000 for the year to December 2015.

The bulk of the firm's construction and fit-out works take place outside Northern Ireland.

In 2015, Gilbert-Ash won a number of multi-million pound national and international contracts.

The firm secured a further contract to fit out the British Embassy in Budapest, signifying the 40th country it has delivered projects in on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

And last year it also finished fitting out the new Google Innovation Lab at PwC's headquarters in Belfast, the first of its kind in Europe.

At the beginning of the year it completed work on two major projects in London worth a total of £44m.

The construction firm said it created 70 new jobs last year, and now employs around 180 staff.

The company says it also gained strength in the hospitality sector, continuing work with hotel giant Whitbread and completing several Premier Inns across the UK. In December, Gilbert-Ash finished a new Premier Inn at Tower Bridge in London.

The so-called compact 'hub hotels' allow guests to book and check in online, as well as pre-select their room temperature and light settings.

Speaking about the latest results, Ray Hutchinson, managing director of Gilbert-Ash, said: "While market conditions remain highly competitive, we are encouraged by the current order book and anticipate a further significant increase in turnover in 2016.

"Our strategic focus on further developing the business in Great Britain has led to an increase in tender opportunities which will ensure continued medium-term growth.

"In 2015 we were pleased to announce we had created 70 highly-skilled new jobs thanks to our consistent success with large contracts, bringing our workforce to more than 180. We expanded our base in London and moved to larger premises in the centre of the city. Gilbert-Ash has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to the UK market and we are confident about the year ahead."

Among the big projects it has finished this year are two major schemes in London - worth a combined £44m.

Those included the Fetal Medicine Research Institute.

And on Savoy Place, in the centre of the city, it's finished work on the headquarters of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET).

In May, Gilbert-Ash's fit-out business was appointed by the Foreign Office to refurbish its Budapest Embassy in a deal worth £2m.

The company has been one of many major construction firms in Northern Ireland which have obtained lucrative contracts in Great Britain to compensate for limited work on home turf.

Some of its deals last year included refurbishing the National Army Museum and the Bartlett School of Architecture.

But aside from large-scale builds and fit-outs, closer to home it also carried out restoration work on the Crown Bar in Belfast city centre. It repaired floors, ceilings, stained glass windows, tiling and booths in the well-known venue.

Gilbert-Ash was the main contractor for the work which was carried out in 2015, and also carried out the previous restoration work on the Crown Bar in 2007.

Belfast Telegraph

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