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Northern Ireland construction giant Graham Construction's profits fall despite sales jump of 36% to £767.6m


Graham worked on Strand Street, Liverpool

Graham worked on Strand Street, Liverpool

Michael Graham (left) with Edward Carson and Howard Hastings of Hastings Hotels at the Grand Central in Belfast

Michael Graham (left) with Edward Carson and Howard Hastings of Hastings Hotels at the Grand Central in Belfast


Graham worked on Strand Street, Liverpool

Northern Ireland's largest construction company has reported an 18% fall in profits to £10m, pointing to supply chain issues following the collapse of Carillion.

But Graham Construction Group also reported a 36% jump in sales to £767.6m in its latest results.

The group, which is based in Hillsborough, said it had a record £400m of construction projects on its books.

In results for the year ending March 2018, which are to be filed at Companies House, the firm said pre-tax profits were £13.1m, down from £16m.

But the company said pre-tax profits were "at a level that the board is happy with following a year of extraordinary investment in the business and issues in the wider industry".

Problems in the wider UK and Ireland construction sector include the collapse in January of UK outsourcing giant Carillion, which had a significant construction division.

Family-run Graham has been working on major projects including the redevelopment of acute services at Ulster Hospital in Belfast, as well as the landmark £53m Grand Central Hotel in Belfast city centre.

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It has 17 offices around the UK and Ireland and employs 2,400 people, including 1,100 in Northern Ireland.

Executive chairman Michael Graham said: "Fundamentally, Graham is in an excellent position.

"Each of our divisions has a record order book and a pipeline of opportunity that is strong in both volume and quality. Cash at bank and in hand has passed the £70m mark with good operating cash flows which means that, among other things, we can ensure prompt supplier payment that will stand us in good stead for more sustainable growth."

Cash at bank had grown from £66.6m a year earlier, he said.

He added: "Margins have unquestionably been hit by some supply chain failures and knock-on effects of a major contractor collapse, but we have ensured that every division has remained in profit and are happy with the end of year outcome given the challenging circumstances.

"Looking forward, we increased investment in the business during 2017/18, developing a guiding principle of 'delivering lasting impact' that reflects who we are and what we stand for. It formed the basis for a strategic rebrand - the first in 25-plus years - and was rolled out nationally from the end of April.

"Our business has evolved significantly in the last 25 years and we're really proud of the result."

The company's other recent contracts include a new commercial hub for start-up and SME businesses at the redeveloped Preston Barracks in Brighton. In Liverpool's Strand Street, it's working on a new £55m waterfront apartment scheme for a Patten Properties and Panacea Property Development joint venture.

In York it's carrying out a £113m student accommodation project. And in Scotland it has worked on a £134m NHS Grampian contract.