Belfast Telegraph

Renowned local steel firm sees profits go through the roof after rebrand

By Margaret Canning

The Co Fermanagh steel construction firm formerly known as Fisher Engineering, and now part of a UK-wide plc, has more than doubled pre-tax profits to over £3m.

Severfield (NI) Ltd in Ballinamallard has worked on projects at Wimbledon Centre Court, the Shard and the 2012 Olympic Stadium.

The firm, which employs around 280 people in the design, fabrication and installation of steel structures, was known as Fisher Engineering Ltd until a rebrand last year.

Fisher Engineering started out in a hut in Ballinamallard in 1950 by Charles Fisher, who began by repairing farm machinery.

His son Bertie Fisher, also a record-breaking rally driver, helped grow the company into a UK leader before his death in a helicopter crash along with his son and daughter in 2001.

Six years later, Fisher Engineering holding company Action Merchants Limited (AML) was acquired by Severfield plc, the largest structural steel specialist in the UK, for around £90m.

It has carried out a range of high-profile sports contracts, including installing steel structures at Wimbledon Centre Court as well as Titanic Belfast, and the main Olympic Stadium for London 2012. In April this year it started working on a steel structure as part of the redevelopment of Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC.

And it has also worked on transport, office and infrastructure projects, including the car park of Belfast City Hospital and the Shard in London.

For the year to March 31, 2015, Severfield (NI) had turnover of £52.7m, up 4% from £50.7m the year before. Pre-tax profit also rose significantly from £1.14m to £3.49m.

In a strategic report accompanying the accounts, Severfield (NI) said the year to the end of March had been a "more successful period" than in 2014.

"The company experienced better trading conditions than the prior year with levels of activity increasing throughout Ireland and the UK," it added.

And the look ahead is positive. "The company has a satisfactory order book for 2015 and the directors view the outlook for the company with confidence.

"The directors are witnessing some improvement in activity levels throughout the UK, albeit from a lower base level.

"This gives improved confidence that the company will continue to deliver strong performance in the future by capitalising on its inherent strengths and long-standing client relationships."

It said the firm was affected by "general economic and specific sectoral factors, such as steel prices and alternative product prices and design development".

The board also carried out regular reviews of competitor activity, market and design trends.

All except one of the company's five company directors give Severfield's headquarters of Thirsk in Yorkshire as their correspondence address. Finance director Alan Dunsmore gives Severfield NI's headquarters of Fisher House in Ballinamallard as his point of contact.

A number of other Northern Ireland-based directors have resigned in recent years, most recently Wesley Knox from Irvinestown, who resigned at the end of August.

Belfast Telegraph