Holding its own

Structural steel and engineering group, Billington Holdings, has reported strong results for the 2008 financial year, with profits up by 8.5 per cent.

The Yorkshire-based company said that its profit before tax increased to £5.2m compared with £4.8m a year earlier.

Revenue rose by 11.6 per cent to £78.3m and earnings-per-share (EPS) were up 6.3 per cent to 30.4p.

In line with expectations, Billington’s structural steel activities brought in an operating profit of £4.6m and the group’s specialist engineering activities achieved an operating profit of £0.7m.

Despite the current downturn in construction, the group claims to be in a good position with a strong balance sheet. Its strategy of using cash made from the sale of non-core assets to fund working-capital requirements means that it currently has no debt.

Peter Hems, executive chairman of the company, said: ‘I am pleased with the group’s performance since the disposal of non-core assets in April 2008. Despite some uncertainty with lower activity levels and margins at Billington Structures, the group’s forward order book remains strong. In particular, we are buoyed by our focus on the public sector, including schools and hospitals, and because we are a preferred supplier to a number of main contractors.’

Speaking of the group’s outlook, he added: ‘Current trading is challenging and it is difficult to forecast what the outcome will be for 2009 and 2010. The level of enquiries for Billington Structures has not been impacted to date, but the margins at which work can be won is at much lower levels than has been achieved in recent years.

‘However, we expect that the overall impact of this on the results for the current year will be partially mitigated by the performance of our specialist businesses in both the steel and engineering divisions where we expect to achieve normal levels of activity and profitability.’