Historic builders' merchants and property letting firm Atkinson Northern has reported pre-tax profits of almost £2m in 2012 as both divisions of the firm performed strongly.
Atkinson Northern, the holding company for J T Atkinson & Sons builders’ merchant which has branches across the North from Cumbria down to Thirsk, delivered profits before tax of £1.9m, compared to £977,960 in 2011.
The 152-year-old company, which is currently run by the sixth and seventh generations of the Atkinson family, says that although the construction market has been tough for the last five years it has seen signs that the climate is improving.
Managing director Edwin Atkinson said: “The market we are in has been depressed since 2008 and, in particular, the North East and North West are tough parts of the country to be in.
“However, we have definitely seen some signs since Easter that things are picking up and indeed we had our record ever sales month in May, which was dry and reasonably warm.
“People have got a bit tired of not going on holiday and not spending money on their houses and gardens. They are starting to feel more confident and that life goes on and this is being demonstrated in our results, as the five new branches we opened during 2011 have started to contribute to the bottom line.”
The £30m turnover group, which has been trading since 1860, had one Penrith branch in 2003. In the 10 years since, it has increased to 14 branches and increased its head count from 70 to more than 200 staff.
It says it will continue to look out for new branch opportunities to “fill in the gaps” in its branch network.
Atkinson said: “Someone once said to me that our branch map looks like something out of the Good Pub Guide, which I quite liked.
“We have established a regional presence across Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and County Durham and we continue to look for other opportunities where we can open a new branch.
“We are very much dependent on the weather and the construction market generally but we are very positive about the future.”
J T Atkinson has branches in Sunderland, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Penrith, Cockermouth, Northallerton, Appleby, Hawes, Kirby, Bedale, Aspatria, Richmond and Thirsk.
It also owns Hathaway timber merchants in Stockton.
The group’s land, buildings and investments properties were devalued by £524,250 following valuations in the year to 31 December 2012.
The news comes months after one of the region’s biggest builders’ merchants Thompson Building Centres collapsed into administration after two years of losses
It was later bought up by national firm Grafton Merchanting GB Ltd for an undisclosed sum, who retained 20 of its 70 staff in the deal.
Thompson will become part of Grafton’s Buildbase division, which is one of the UK’s fastest-growing builders’ merchants, and the acquisition has enabled the company to trade for the first time in the North East.