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WS Atkins profits fall as public sector work put at risk and staff numbers cut

Marion Dakers
CONSTRUCTION and engineering firm WS Atkins saw its profits fall by six per cent last year, as a slowdown in revenues and mounting pension debts outweighed its recent cost cutting drive.

The company, which helps design big building projects such as London’s 2012 Olympic site, said pre-tax profit fell to £96.5m in the last financial year as net finance costs jumped five-fold.

Steps taken to reduce a pensions deficit of £215m will cost £32m this year, and the firm expects to pay down the same amount of debt for the next four years. Staffing numbers were cut by around 10 per cent last year. Uncertainty over public spending in the UK hit revenues, which dropped 6.7 per cent to £1.4bn. While lucrative public contracts such as the expansion of the M25 helped lift profits in the firm’s transport segment, government cuts may mean future infrastructure projects are cancelled.