Belfast Telegraph

Lagan Construction extending HQ after H&J Martin merger

By Margaret Canning

Staff at building firm H&J Martin are on the move following the company's merger with Lagan Construction Group.

The bigger firm announced it was extending its Titanic Quarter headquarters to make room for staff at H&J Martin.

The merger of the companies was announced earlier this year - and Lagan Construction Group yesterday announced it was building a 40,000 sq ft extension to house 250 H&J Martin staff.

Colin Loughran, chief executive of Lagan Construction Group, said: "These plans represent a major investment from the private sector into the local economy and a vital development for Lagan Construction Group as we seek to progress our growing business ambitions and increase turnover.

"Following our acquisition of H&J Martin and our desire to have a central hub for all our operations, we have outgrown our current office provision - and this application represents the next stage in our business growth."

There will also be new car parking and recladding to the existing premises.

The new headquarters will have room for up to 400 employees.

H&J Martin is still trading under the same name but as part of the Lagan Construction Group.

Lagan Construction Group said the current headquarters of H&J Martin on the Ormeau Road will be redeveloped at a later stage.

In 2011, Lagan Construction built an earlier extension to the office of 7,000 sq ft offices and open plan area with 53 work stations.

The company's chairman is Michael Lagan and it announced pre-tax profits of £4.3m in January.

In the 12 months to the end of March 2014, the company saw revenues fall from the previous year's figure of £165.1m to £137.6m, while pre-tax profits fell from £4.6m to £4.3m.

The firm said this the profit fall was due to the escalation of costs and the poor performance of the economy in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The firm has worked on projects at airports throughout the world, such as Heathrow, London Luton, Gatwick, Cardiff, Bristol and Bournemouth in the UK, as well as in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and Bermuda in the Caribbean, and in Hong Kong and Pakistan.

H&J Martin is one of Northern Ireland's oldest firms and was founded in 1840. It's been behind a number of big-name projects and also carried out the fit-out of the International Broadcast Centre for London 2012.

But it was hard hit in the economic downturn. In its last stand-alone accounts - for the year ending December 2012 - it suffered a £2.7m loss on turnover of £100.9m.

The directors attributed the losses to projects in Romania and Azerbaijan, following which the company withdrew from the eastern European market.

Belfast Telegraph