Atkins eyes overseas growth as UK wavers

Marion Dakers
DESIGN and engineering group WS Atkins is looking to expand further abroad to offset a slide in UK revenues.

Atkins, whose projects include the Olympic Games site and widening the M25, reported a 1.1 per cent fall in full year pre-tax profits to £101.6m yesterday, excluding a gain from changes to its pension pot. UK revenues slid 7.2 per cent to £859.9m – meaning the firm’s core market generated less than half of its turnover.

Overall revenues rose 9.4 per cent to £1.7bn, helped by the acquisition of US engineer PBSJ in October 2010.

Chief executive Uwe Krueger told City A.M. the success of the PBSJ deal could pave the way for further acquisitions abroad.

“Getting this acquisition right in the US was a litmus test for us, to see if we could do large scale deals on the M&A side, and I think we have done this. The focus has been on bolt-on acquisitions, but we cannot rule out the possibility of a large deal if the opportunity arises.”

In the year ahead, Atkins said it has 60 per cent of its expected work in hand, up five percentage points from a year ago, and hopes to fill around 1,000 vacancies in the UK despite the tough trading conditions.

Kreuger added that he is “looking forward to hosting clients there and showcasing our work” at this summer’s Games.