Restructured steelwork contractor Billington Holdings surged back to profit in 2013 and has started 2014 with its strongest order book for five years.
After a pre-tax loss of £455,000 in 2012, Billington made a pre-tax profit of £720,000 in 2013 on revenue down 1.6% to £37.6m.
Adjusted profit before tax, excluding redundancy costs, was £929,000 (2012: £133,000 loss), which is more than double original market expectations at the start of the financial year.
Chief executive Steve Fareham said: "The improvement in Billington's financial performance in 2013 is testament to the extensive efforts that have been made restructuring all group operations in the recent past. We have established an appropriate platform from which to serve our customers, while ensuring that we have sufficient capacity and capabilities to exploit growth opportunities as our markets continue to recover.
"We entered the 2014 financial year with the strongest order book the group has had for a number of years and are well placed to exploit opportunities presented in the short-term, in addition to continuing to develop opportunities in new sectors in order to maximise long-term growth potential. The group remains financially strong with an exciting future."
Projects in hand include a major exhibition hall in Liverpool, several energy from waste developments across the UK, sports centres in London, retail projects in Cornwall, Rotherham and Liverpool and a large data centre in the south of England.
Chairman Peter Hems said: “The restructuring activities that have prevailed across the group over the last three years are believed to be materially complete and all group businesses are now appropriately positioned in order to take advantage of improving market conditions.
“There has been a substantial turnaround in the performance of the structural steel business as compared with the previous year. Although there have been a number of changes to the management team, we continue to look to strengthen where appropriate and are actively looking to appoint a new technical director. Turnover from this division is at a similar level to the previous year but an improvement in margin has been achieved by a combination of cost reductions and operating efficiencies and by concentrating on activities where we can influence the design and value engineering aspects of the work.
“The results of the Peter Marshall Steel Stairs subsidiary were disappointing and as a consequence there have been further changes to the management team. A new team has now been installed and recent success in winning new work provides us with a base on which to build; we are looking to achieve a break even result at a minimum for this business in 2014.”
Henderson Global Investors acquired 1 million Billington shares (7.73%) in January 2014.