Rise in offshore work keeps Booth buoyant

Booth Industries group, the UK engineering and related services company, announced a healthy rise in turnover and operating profit for the year to 30 September 1999, despite a tough year for subsidiary CHB Fabrications.

The group comprises Booth Industries, which makes blast doors and walls, CHB Fabrications, which manufactures plumbing and piping, and Oakland Elevators.

The three divisions supply a common core of companies including BP and Shell in the petrochemical fields and various construction companies

Group turnover was £18.3m, up from £12.2m. Booth’s net profit after tax was £463,000 – a rise from £293,000 last year.

In terms of contribution both Oakland and Booth produced significant improvements and with satisfactory order books are expected to perform equally well this year.

CHB, acquired by the group in August 1998, contributed the biggest increase in turnover, but returned a loss this year. The cut-back in demand predicted for CHB in the six-month report last year has been borne out.

Group chairman Roy Jordan said renewed maintenance activity in the petrochemical market, allied with CHB’s restructuring, should lead to improved trading by the second half of 2000.

`When the oil price was $9 a barrel, BP took all the money that should have gone for maintenance and bought companies such as Amoco,’ Jordan said.

`Exxon followed suit. Now the oil price is $26 they have had to go back to all the maintenance projects they had put on hold. So the situation is starting to improve.’

The group’s gearing is, in the words of the chairman, `almost non-existent’. This high-level of borrowing power has led it to look for a large acquisition.

`The only reason we did not complete a big acquisition was that the ones we looked over just were not right,’ Jordan said.

`We looked at a number of acquisitions and backed away from them. We are only looking for things that are going to enhance our earnings per share in the first year.’