Building giant McLaughlin & Harvey's turnaround complete as sales and profits soar

Gary McDonald Business Editor

BUILDING and civil engineering giant McLaughlin & Harvey, one of Northern Ireland's oldest and largest construction groups, has reported a marked rise in profits and turnover.

Figures filed at Companies House reveal that M&H generated a turnover of £267.7 million in the last calendar year - up more than £20m on the 2016 total of £247.2m.

Its profit before tax lifted from £2,259,000 to £4,124,000, and on a bottom line basis, profit came in at £3,394,000.

And the balance sheet for the group shows net assets of £30m, supported by net cash of £29.9m.

The stellar turnaround in the company's fortunes is underlined by the fact that as recently as 2015 it posted a loss of £11.7 million.

McLaughlin & Harvey, which has been operating throughout the UK and Ireland for 165 years, said it was "very encouraged" by the 2017 performance.

The directors also described the current order book and tender opportunities as "very healthy".

In a statement accompanying the accounts, the directors added: "The construction and civil engineering businesses showed a strong improvement in trading performance during the year.

"The distribution business continues to perform strongly and current indications are that 2018 will be another successful year for the business."

M&H, which was appointed last month by Liverpool City Council to prepare a new cruise terminal facility on the River Mersey, had a regular workforce of 433 last year (six more than in 2016), and its wages bill came in at £22.6m against £21.1 previously.

The company's directors were paid a combined sum of £2,067,000 over the year, with its highest-paid executive seeing his salary package lift from £371,000 to £418,000.

Headquartered at Trench Road in Mallusk, McLaughlin & Harvey operates in various sectors including healthcare, education, industrial, retail, sporting venues, transport infrastructure, marine and rivers, energy, commercial, and leisure.

It has a number of major projects currently live, including work on the King's College Hospital in London (a project worth £68m), Luton Airport (£57m) and an Ikea store in Exeter (£32m).

Closer to home, the company is involved in the rehabilitation of a 12-mile stretch of the main Belfast to Dublin rail line, using ballast cleaning technology over a series of overnight possessions of the line between Lisburn and Moira.

Last June M&H strengthened its specialist joinery division with the acquisition of the long-established School and Office Supplies (SOS) Group in Belfast, cementing its position as an international full service construction group and allowing it to offer its portfolio of clients an improved end-to-end service.

Three years ago the directors of M&H formed a group company, McLaughlin & Harvey Holdings, comprising its two main firms - McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd in Belfast and a Trench Holdings Ltd in Scotland (whose subsidiaries include Barr Construction).

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