Graham Group builds for the future with £400m work pipeline

Michael Graham, executive chairman of the Graham Group, at the at the launch of Grand Central Hotel in Belfast with Hastings Group managing director Howard Hastings and its vice-chairman Edward Carson
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE Graham Group in Co Down is the new Goliath of the north's construction sector after posting a record-busting set of accounts.

The privately-owned firm's revenues jumped by 36 per cent to £767.6 million in the year to March (it was £565m the year before), with growth across all divisions.

The company (which can actually trace its roots back to 1778 also has cash in hand of £70.1 million (up from £66.6 million last year).

And Graham currently has a mammoth £400m worth of live construction projects in Northern Ireland, which include the major redevelopment of Acute Services at Ulster Hospital in Belfast, the A6 upgrade between Derry and Dungiven, Erskine House development in Belfast city centre, and the new Royal Maternity and acute mental health facility at Belfast City Hospital.

“Fundamentally, Graham is in an excellent position," its group executive chairman Michael Graham said.

“Each of our divisions has a record order book and a pipeline of opportunity that is strong in both volume and quality. Cash at bank and in hand has passed the £70 million mark with good operating cash flows which means that, among other things, we can ensure prompt supplier payment that will stand us in good stead for more sustainable growth."

Graham - which earlier this month handed over the keys of the £55m Grand Central Hotel in Belfast to its owners Hastings Hotels - did see its profit before tax slip back to £13.1m down from £16m in previous year.

But this is "a level we're happy with" says the board, following a year of extraordinary investment in the business and issues in the wider industry.

Graham Group is one of the UK and Ireland's stellar-performing construction, facilities management and project investment businesses.

It operates 17 offices (including its headquarters in Hillsborough), employing 2,400 staff, of whom more than 1,100 are from Northern Ireland.

Mr Graham added: “Margins have unquestionably been hit by some supply chain failures and knock-on effects of a major contractor collapse, but we have ensured that every division has remained in profit and are happy with the end of year outcome given the challenging circumstances.

“Looking forward, we increased investment in the business during 2017/18, developing a guiding principle of ‘delivering lasting impact' that reflects who we are and what we stand for.

"It formed the basis for a strategic rebrand – the first in 25-plus years – and was rolled out nationally from the end of April. Our business has evolved significantly in the last 25 years and we're really proud of the result.

“Most importantly, we continue to invest in our people, their skills and capability. In the last year we have received the Investors in People (IIP) Platinum standard and Wellbeing accreditation, the first contractor to achieve this in the UK.

“We have also enhanced our digital capabilities through the investment in the digital construction team and digital FM offering.”

As well as the Grand Centre Hotel, recent major scheme undertaken by the group include the £134mn Baird Family Hospital and Anchor Centre development for NHS Grampian and a new £55 million waterfront apartment scheme on Strand Street in Liverpool, and it has also secured a place on the £750m Clyde Commercial Framework as part of the Kier Graham Defence joint venture.

Graham's civil engineering team has been working on bridges on the A47 in Norfolk, one of 68 schemes being delivered by Graham as part of Highways England's, OD East Package 2 (North), £21million package of works in total.

Michael Graham added: “We are ambitious about what we can help achieve for a society that needs more homes, better hospitals, schools and infrastructure, first rate commercial space and leisure facilities – high quality projects that are built to last.”

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