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Decline in turnover and profits for Co Tyrone building firm

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The multi-million pound Scale Space project in London’s Imperial College, which earned Western Building Systems a nomination in 2020's UK-wide Building Awards

The multi-million pound Scale Space project in London’s Imperial College, which earned Western Building Systems a nomination in 2020's UK-wide Building Awards

The multi-million pound Scale Space project in London’s Imperial College, which earned Western Building Systems a nomination in 2020's UK-wide Building Awards

A CO Tyrone construction company facing litigation over its work on schools in the Republic has reported a decline in turnover and pre-tax profits.

Western Building Systems, which says it's “vigorously” defending the legal action by the Department of Education, saw a decline in turnover from £42.8m to £38.6m.

Pre-tax profits over the year to April 30 2021 were also down from £1.9m to £0.6m.

The Coalisland-based business specialises in modular building and off-site construction in the education, health and commercial sectors.

In a strategic report filed with the results, the directors of the company said the results were satisfactory, against a backdrop of “increased competition in the market and reduced margins”.  

And they added that the outlook for 2021/22 was “encouraging”, with results expected to be in line with 2020/21

However, there were risks facing the company, such as euro exchange rates, controlling costs and maintaining sales levels along with recovery in the construction sector. 

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There was also risk that the Covid-19 pandemic would impact negatively on the company’s trade, the strategic report added.  However, the report added that processes had been put in place to mitigate any impact on the company’s trade from the pandemic, with the directors confident of their ability to trade positively despite economic conditions.

Staff numbers had gone from 74 to 64, although the paybill had nonetheless increased form £2.4m to £2.6m.

The report also referred to the high-profile legal row with the Republic’s Department of Education, which emerged in 2018 when WBS and other consulting and engineering firms were sued by the Department of Education and Skills over structural safety concerns at 42 schools it built in the Republic.

WBS, which is run by the McCloskey family, has said the department had the final sign-off on the buildings and is fighting the cases.

In the report, the company said: “Republic of Ireland high court litigation has been instigated against the company by the Department of Education in relation to alleged building defects in a large number of RoI schools.

“This litigation involves multiple defendants and third parties as well as the company.  

“The company are vigorously defending the litigation together with their insurers and do not accept that they have any liability.  

“The company has also issued multiple separate proceedings against the Department of Education for sums due pursuant to completed contracts in a total sum in excess of 3.5m euros.”  


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