Belfast Telegraph

Builder buoyed by order book despite turnover fall

By Margaret Canning

The parent company of building firm Gilbert-Ash has said it will continue its focus on contracts in Great Britain after reporting an 11% slump in turnover to £73m - down from £82.3m.

Belfast-based Ards Holdings said skill shortages are a growing problem for the industry as activity in the construction sector picks up.

Pre-tax profits at the firm, which has carried out major contracts including the Causeway Visitor Centre, were £531,000 during 2014 - down 15.6% from £448,000 in 2013. The directors said they were "satisfied" with the company's underlying performance.

The firm has secured major contracts in Great Britain, including the recent refurbishment of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

It also secured a £13m contract to refurbish and extend the National Army Museum, and the £20m refurbishment of the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London.

As well as construction contracts, the company also works in retail and commercial fit-out projects.

In a strategic report accompanying the accounts, which have just been filed at Companies House, the directors said: "Whilst market conditions remain highly competitive, the directors are encouraged by the current order book, and anticipate a significant increase in turnover for 2015.

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

And Ards Holdings, which employs 119 people, echoed concerns about a lack of construction skills among workers in the future, previously aired by organisations including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

"As recovery in the construction sector begins to take hold, the directors consider the key business risks which could impact on the performance of the company are, increased shortages of skilled labour and long lead times for key material supplies, particularly in Great Britain," it said.

The firm's subsidiaries are Gilbert-Ash and Gilbert-Ash Fit-Out, which is a dormant company.

Belfast Telegraph