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Next 200 profile: Western Building Systems

Number 88


Martin McCloskey

Martin McCloskey

Martin McCloskey

Many have been through the thick of it of late.

But while accounting periods still largely track pre-Covid activity, the surge in turnover and profits at Western Building Systems is certainly a positive story worth telling. And it’s one firm which has been actively involved in work around the pandemic.

The Co Tyrone firm specialises in off-site construction – developing modular build projects across a range of areas, from residential, to schools and commercial, across the UK and Ireland.

“Our designation as essential workers, in GB, NI and the Republic of Ireland enabled us to proceed with key scheduled projects,” chief executive, Martin McCloskey, said.

He says since, the company had delivered a satisfactory performance in the face of competition, reduced margins, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although there was some interruption during the first lockdown, our teams were able to continue to work within carefully managed social distanced environments.”

The firm began life in 1982, initially doing flat roofing projects before its expansion into specialist construction for projects primarily within the health, education, commercial and housing sectors.

It operates from a purpose-built manufacturing facility near Coalisland, and is now one of the leading providers of specialist construction projects throughout the UK and Ireland.

The off-site construction firm invested almost £1.2m in a 30,000 sq ft factory at its Coalisland headquarters, in 2016, complete with two 20 tonne overhead cranes.

Turnover at Western Building Systems rose by 72% from £24.79m to £42.78m for the period April 2019/2020. Meanwhile, pre-tax profit climbed to £1.86m and employment numbers rose by 20%. 

The performance has seen the firm jump to number 88 on this year’s Next 200 list.

During this period relating to its most recent financial accounts, Western was awarded major projects at London’s Imperial College totalling £28m, two schools for the Department of Education and Skills in the Republic, modular classrooms for the Department of Education in Northern Ireland worth around £5m, 50 turnkey dwelling houses and 12 apartments in a new housing development in Duleek, Co Meath and almost 200 private and social housing units. The company also added a fifth director, Rory McGuigan, during the same period. 

Western also completed and handed over a new 60-bed medical block and a 14 bed, two storey modular unit to the University Hospital Limerick in response to the growing number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to the hospital. In addition, it was awarded a contract to build a new Covid-testing facility at the same location.

“We are very aware that none of this would have been possible without the consistent dedication and hard work of our staff who have delivered even in the most challenging of circumstances and now the key focus for our senior management team is to continue to win new projects during the pandemic,” Martin said.

He said the pipeline for 2021 projects is strong and Western Building Systems anticipates similar turnover levels for the period between April 2020 and 2021.

“As well as a £500,000 project for the NI Ambulance Service and modular accommodation for the NI Fire and Rescue Service, we also commenced a number of other major contracts at Hillingdon Hospital, London (60-bed medical ward), Batchworth Council, Watford (office accommodation), two new housing developments in Counties Armagh and Tyrone and secured ongoing work with the Department of Education in Northern Ireland.”