Railways pave way for rising profits at Marshalls

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paving specialist Marshalls has reaped the rewards of an improving construction market and focused operational strategy, achieving 75% growth in pre-tax profits.

The landscape products group, which provides materials to public sector, commercial and domestic markets, saw a 15% year-on-year increase in revenue in the six months to June, with £180m turnover.

This translated into a 75% rise in pre-tax profit to £14m, from £8m in the same period last year. Its operating profit grew 60% to £15.6m.

Marshalls CEO Martyn Coffey said the results are a combination of a rising market, high operational gearing in the business and successfully bringing down costs at the Huddersfield-based group.

While the improving UK economy, which has passed its pre-recession peak growth rate of 3.2% annually, has contributed to the results, the group has outstripped the rate of the market.

In addition to a 5% increase in demand, there has been a 3% rise in prices, Mr Coffey said, but Marshalls has grown at almost twice the rate of the market.

The company’s public sector and commercial business represents 62% of the company and performed strongly over the first half of the year, with sales climbing 19% on a continuing basis.

Having successfully completed work on refurbishments at London Kings Cross and London Bridge railway stations, this market continues to present opportunities for future growth.

“Rail continues to be a key market for us,” Mr Coffey said. “We’re planning to bid in both the HS2 and Crossrail projects.”

While the controversial high-speed rail link, which is expected to begin construction in 2017, is still at the inquiry stage, Marshalls is working to “get in there early”.

“We want to be involved at an early stage, working with the architects to develop the stations,” he said.

The company expects it will see growth for the next 24 to 36 months, Mr Coffey said.

“Our focus is responding to capacity, which means increasing shifts and taking on people to meet demand,” he added.

Saphieh Ashtiany, the equality and employment lawyer

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