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Vaughan Engineering counters losses with £30m of new orders

By Margaret Canning

A Co Antrim engineering company has said a new order pipeline worth £30m will help reverse its fortunes after group losses caused by two problem projects in Scotland.

Vaughan Engineering Ltd, which employs 330 people across operations in Newtownabbey and two other companies in Great Britain, said that it had enjoyed a "very good" financial year, with the company retuning to profit.

In the 12 months to March 31 2016, Vaughan Engineering Group Ltd faced losses of £1.5m from a dispute related to two separate projects.

However, it is understood the company has since resolved the difficulties, which are believed to relate to schemes in Scotland.

The directors said that since the period covered in the group results, the company had secured new jobs in Northern Ireland, including hospital work.

The business has long carried out contracts in Great Britain, and has had an office in Scotland since the 1960s.

Group financial director Gavin Vaughan told the Belfast Telegraph: "It was a good year for our Northern Ireland business, Vaughan Engineering Services Ltd, which returned to profitability.

"It has been very successful in the current period, securing a number of new jobs in Northern Ireland, including the Ulster Hospital's new acute services block and the replacement adult mental health facility at the City Hospital.

"(There is also) a new order pipeline of more than £30m providing contracted works for the next three years."

The group report for the company, which marked its 60th birthday last year, said that apart from the two disputes, its performance over the period had been satisfactory.

Turnover was £68.6m, up from £62.5m, while pre-tax losses were £0.85m - as a result of a £1.5m loss from the disputed projects - compared to pre-tax profits of £268,000 the previous 12 months.

At Vaughan Engineering Services in Northern Ireland, turnover for the year to March 2016 was up from £12.9m to £17m, while it made £15,000 in pre-tax profits, up from a loss of £120,000 a year earlier.

Vaughan Engineering Group Ltd is the parent company of three businesses, including Vaughan Engineering in Great Britain as well as Vaughan Engineering Services in Northern Ireland and Brankin Engineering Ltd in Great Britain.

The business has offices in Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Manchester, as well as its headquarters in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim.

The company specialises in mechanical and electrical work and has worked on schemes in Northern Ireland including the Grand Opera House, Parliament Buildings, the Royal Victoria Hospital and Victoria Square shopping centre.

It also has a residential developer, Vaughan Homes, which has built houses in Lisburn and Carrickfergus.

The firm's results came as industry body the Construction Employers Federation warned that the sector could be hit hard by the crisis in power-sharing at Stormont.

Managing director John Armstrong said that companies could suffer as spending decisions were held up, adding that the challenges of Brexit and a fall in infrastructure work meant "we need a Northern Ireland Executive that works".

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