Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: Patton Group Ltd

By John Simpson

Hoping to build despite difficult times

The Patton Group was, earlier in this decade, one of the fastest expanding family-controlled building companies based in Northern Ireland. In addition to local contracts, it also has had subsidiary companies working in England and the Republic of Ireland. The business works through three divisions - construction, fit-out and housing.

In common with the rest of the construction industry, the firm has recently faced much more demanding trading conditions than in earlier years. Turnover in 2010 fell by 12% and was 15% lower than in the peak year of 2007.

The large fall in turnover is attributed to a reduced workload for fit-out in retail businesses.

Overall operating results moved from a profit of £3.2m in 2009 to a loss of £2.6m in 2010.

A bad debt of £1.2m was accounted for from a client who went into administration in March 2011. However, the main write-down affecting the pre-tax results was an exceptional write down of £4.7m after a review of the value of the land bank held, locally and nationally. After also deducting interest charges on borrowed funds, the pre-tax position became a large loss of just over £10m.

Despite the difficult trading conditions, and partly after a sale of assets which attracted £2.7m in new funds, the group net borrowing in November 2010 fell to £41m from £48m a year earlier.

Post-tax losses were carried on to the balance sheet with the result, for the first time in recent years, the value of shareholders' funds fell from £38.3m to £29.4m at the end of the financial year. The assessment of the directors for 2011 was more up-beat. The order book was described as strong with significant business booked for both construction and fit-out work.