Belfast Telegraph

Profits up at McLaughlin and Harvey despite dip in turnover

McLaughlin and Harvey is the main contractor for the £98m One Braham tower in London
McLaughlin and Harvey is the main contractor for the £98m One Braham tower in London
Philip Cheevers
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

One of Northern Ireland's biggest construction firms has reported a rise in pre-tax profits despite seeing its overall revenues fall in the past year.

The holding company for Mallusk-based McLaughlin and Harvey has reported pre-tax profits of £11.3m for the year to December 31, 2018, 2.3% up on last year's performance.

That was despite the group reporting a 9.2% fall in turnover to £422.7m. The average number of workers employed by the firm also fell slightly, from 790 to 777 during 2018.

The report showed the construction group held assets of £52.1m at the end of last year, and was supported by a net cash sum of £55.4m.

After recommending a dividend of just £200,000 for its shareholders for 2017, McLaughlin and Harvey Holdings Ltd has recommended a £7.4m dividend for 2018.

The group is chaired by well-known businessman Ken Cheevers. His son Philip is group chief executive.

The builder continued to solidify its position as one of Northern Ireland's biggest construction players in the last 12 months, securing a series of major deals in Britain and opening a new base in Liverpool.

Last year the firm was appointed to carry out the first stage of a £50m project to prepare the way for a new 10,000 sqm cruise terminal facility on the River Mersey. The Co Antrim company was also named as the main contractor for Liverpool FC's new £50m training complex.

Its other major live projects in Britain include the £98m One Braham tower in London, where it is the main contractor for the new 18-storey, 464,000 sq ft structure.

In May McLaughlin and Harvey announced the opening of a new premises in Bristol.

In a review of its business during 2018, the group said its construction and civil engineering businesses showed strong improvement in trading performance during the year.

The company said its current order book, tender opportunities and performance for 2019 is "very healthy".

Although primarily associated with the building trade, McLaughlin and Harvey has diversified its portfolio in recent years, with a number of its subsidiary firms bolstering its financial performance. The group's directors said its distribution and environmental subsidiaries performed strongly in 2018, with the latter benefiting from a series of long-term contracts.

Scotland-based Barr Environmental Ltd, which the group acquired in 2007, is one such subsidiary. It generated a pre-tax profit of £5.1m during 2017.

However, the company report notes that the McLaughlin and Harvey subsidiary has been in ongoing discussions with both Revenue Scotland and HMRC as to whether it has paid sufficient landfill tax in relation to processed materials used in engineering works within its operations.

The directors of Barr said they remain confident that the firm has met its obligations and complied with all relevant tax legislation.

The holding group said: "Whilst market conditions in the UK and Ireland continue to be highly competitive across the business sectors we operate in, the ongoing investment in business development, infrastructure and in our people and skills base will ensure continued success for the group going forward."

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