Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland construction giant sees its profits soar to £12.8m after selling off part of business

By John Mulgrew

A Northern Ireland construction giant has seen its profits quadruple to £12.8m in the space of just one year.

Heron Bros Ltd says it has been one of the "most successful" years in its 60-year history.

The Draperstown business saw pre-tax profits soar from £2.6m to £12.8m in the year to February 28, 2017.

Much of that increase was down to the sale of a subsidiary.

The firm's turnover increased from £57.4m to £94.8m during the same period.

The company, which built the new stand at Ulster Rugby's Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, said that it marked its 60th anniversary in 2016, which was "one of the most successful years in the company's history".

"A number of factors including delays to the start of projects in the previous year, selective tendering of a smaller number of larger schemes, and a significant increase in property-related contracts, gave rise to a significant increase in turnover during the year," the firm's strategic report said.

"The excellent work by the company's loyal workforce, our long-serving management team and the efficiency created by a stagnant overhead relative to turnover, created an increase in overall profit levels."

The accounts show that the company made £8.7m from the sale of its share in Heron Countesswell No 1 Ltd.

Heron Bros works in Northern Ireland, the Republic, Britain and Europe.

"The board does not expect to maintain this level of turnover in the near future and will consolidate next year in preparation for future expansion," it said. "Growth will continue to be driven through the existing sectors, within which we operate, and through the pursuit of niche markets, residential developments, strategic joint ventures and in conjunction with the company's property division.

"Although there are signs of economic recovery, the market continues to display volatility both at a local and national level. To avoid spending troughs, the company will have a renewed focus on the UK market."

It says "We are however encouraged by a strong balance sheet, order book, and opportunities for the year ahead.

"This will be done, as always, in a controlled manner to ensure that key issues, such as health and safety, quality of service, business reputation and margin, are not compromised in any way."

According to the latest accounts for Heron Bros Ltd, the company employed an average of 244 staff during the course of the year.

That was up from 239 the year before.

The accounts say that the firm's "ultimate controlling party is Heron Bros Holdings Limited", which is registered in the Isle of Man.

Aside from building a host of stadia across the UK, it also works in retail, office and industrial construction.

It was behind the City Quays 1 office development for Belfast Harbour.

Between 1983 and 1985 Heron Bros Ltd became the largest private landlord of industrial land in Northern Ireland.

One of the company's recent projects is the North West Regional Science Park in Londonderry.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.