Esh Group in 'good shape' as economy picks up

Esh Group in "good shape" to take advantage of the economic upturn, despite reporting continued lower profit margins for 2012

Brian Manning, chief executive of Esh Group

Esh Group, one of the largest construction companies in the North of England, says it is in “good shape” to take advantage of the economic upturn, despite reporting continued lower profit margins for 2012.

At a meeting with shareholders last night, chief executive of the County Durham-based group, Brian Manning, revealed Esh’s turnover in the year ending December 31, 2012, was £174m, compared to £171m the year before.

Operating profit dropped from £2.05m to £1.3m, but profits after deductions rose dramatically from £60,000 to £1m.

The figures were influenced by the fact that Esh paid considerably more interest in 2011 than 2012, when it also had over £400,000 of taxes paid back to the company.

“Although 2012 has been tough, we have achieved profits in a difficult market,” Manning said.

“Whilst our turnover is only slightly up on the previous year, we are in a really good shape to take advantage of the upturn which we are now seeing in 2013.

“We have an extremely strong cash position going into 2013 - at the year-end Esh Group had £27m in the bank and as we progress into 2013 our work pipeline is very health and turnover is up across all companies in the Group.”

Formed as Esh Holdings in 1999, when a number of construction companies grouped together, Esh has grown considerably over the years and employs around 1000 people at its Bowburn headquarters and sites at Cramlington, Kendal, and Thorpe Park near Leeds.

It also has an office in Newton Aycliffe, dealing mainly with housing projects.

Recently, the group has played a pivotal role recently in highlighting perceived injustices in public sector procurement strategy, which many believe put smaller regional businesses at a disadvantage compared with the national giants.

Announcing the results, Esh Group chairman Austin Donohoe said: “Whilst profit has been hard to achieve over the last five years, this is a robust business with a really strong financial base.

“Much of that strength is attribute to the support of our shareholders and hard-working staff, many of whom are shareholders themselves.

“We have an extensive and loyal customer base across a wide spectrum of construction and the significant goodwill from the local communities in which we deliver our services and invest our support.”

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