Balfour Beatty says building work still tough

 
Suzie Neuwirth
INFRASTRUCTURE group Balfour Beatty’s UK construction revenues fell 23 per cent in the first quarter, as the tough building market continues to dent business.

The British marketplace “continues to be adversely impacted by the shortage of major public projects and fierce competition in the regional markets”, said the FTSE 250-listed firm yesterday.

Total construction revenue declined by 11 per cent.

Revenue from mainland European rail operations, which Balfour Beatty plans to sell off, declined 24 per cent in the quarter.

However, the firm said trading in other businesses is broadly in line with expectations, following a profit warning in April, and Balfour’s shares closed three per cent higher.

The firm expects its construction business in Britain to break even over the year.

“As we progress through the year, our business is expected to benefit from the cost efficiency programmes we have in place, a recovery in operational performance in UK construction and the ongoing implementation of strategic initiatives,” the company said.

“Based on these dynamics and the first half weighting of the profit shortfall in UK construction, we expect our profits to be more heavily skewed to the second half than in previous years.”

The firm said its efforts to move into new countries and sectors was helping make up for the ongoing gloom in the British business, and that it continues to look for fresh projects overseas.