Belfast Telegraph

Turnover of building giant Henry Group increases to £40m as it hails latest figures

By Margaret Canning

Co Londonderry construction giant Henry Group has said it's at its strongest in five years, after reporting an 11% increase in turnover to £40m.

The family-run firm, which is based in Magherafelt, said it was "pleased" with the growth in sales.

Pre-tax profits at the holding company - which includes building firm Henry Brothers and glazing specialist Windell - were steady at £1m.

Meanwhile, turnover at subsidiary Henry Brothers was up from £33m to £35m, while pre-tax profits were also £1m.

A strategic report published with the group accounts - for the year ending March 31, 2016 - said: "The increase in turnover has been the result of successful targeting of key markets across both Northern Ireland and Great Britain."

However, staff numbers had fallen from 248 to 219.

Production numbers had dropped from 207 to 169, while administrative staff had increased from 41 to 50.

Its contracts in Great Britain have included work on the Scottish Parliament. It's also secured major deals in the education sector, including work on a laboratory for the study for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at Loughborough University.

And it's also been named preferred bidder by Derbyshire County Council for work on a £20m secondary school in Glossopdale.

A spokesman said it was the second time Henry Brothers had worked on the Scottish Parliament, adding: "The repeat business with such a high profile client speaks volumes for our levels of expertise and workmanship."

And he said the company was "watching closely" the impact of Brexit on the economy.

The spokesman added that the firm was not surprised by a UK construction survey this week, which said confidence was at a seven-year low during June.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index (PMI) recorded a worse-than-expected 46.0 in June, down from 51.2 in May and well below economist expectations of 50.6.

Henry Group's spokesman said: "As a business we are in a healthy financial position, as evidenced in our recently filed financial statements and are fortunate to have a secured pipeline of work throughout the group that is stronger than we've had at any point in the last five years.

"The recent construction survey for the UK which said confidence was at a seven year low doesn't come as a surprise to us and in fact it is something we are very much used to from the more severe prolonged downtown that we have continued to experience over the last eight years in the Northern Ireland construction sector. Our business is regularly adapting to the continued challenges within construction and despite the uncertainty arising from the referendum we are confident that it will continue to successfully do so."

Henry Brothers has also been selected by the Ministry of Defence infrastructure organisation as one of five firms to carry out capital works in the south of England.

It was the only Northern Ireland firm to be picked for the works after a tendering process.

The spokesman added: "All in all, the last 12 months has been a successful period for the Magherafelt business."

The firm's interests are split across the commercial, defence, healthcare, industrial and education sectors.

Previous defence work included a firearms training centre for Her Majesty's Naval Base in Clyde - the headquarters of the Royal Navy in Scotland and the base of the government's Trident missiles.

The company has also carried out contracts on major church and offices projects around Northern Ireland.

Its church work has included the historic Union Road Church in Magherafelt, while office projects include Lanyon Place in Belfast. It has also worked on the restoration of Antrim Castle Gardens.

But, in common with other construction firms which have been forced to look for work elsewhere due to the slump at home, many of its contracts have also been for projects in Great Britain.

Last year, Henry Brothers' strategic report said it had made a decision not to follow the industry trend of submitting low bids for work. Instead, it said it would be choosy about obtaining high quality work and would not be changing course.

Belfast Telegraph