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Murphy credits repeat business for 5% operating margin

11 Jun Civil engineering contractor J Murphy & Sons saw its profits soar in 2023 despite a small fall in turnover.

Murphy's operating profits rose 57% in 2023 to nearly £72m
Murphy's operating profits rose 57% in 2023 to nearly £72m

For the year ended 31st December 2023, Murphy turned over £1,421m (2022: £1,491m). Operating profit rose 57% to £71.7m – giving a margin of 5.0% – while profit before tax increased 50% to £66.8m (2022: £44.6m).

The 5% revenue decline was attributed primarily to the timing and completion of projects in Canada;  this was offset by continued revenue growth in both Ireland and the UK. The strong profit improvement was attributed to an increased level of repeat business from existing clients alongside a higher number of directly awarded contracts.

New project wins, successful project execution and strong demand for infrastructure development further strengthened Murphy’s balance sheet, closing 2023 with net cash of £347.1m (2022: £275.5m)., a rise of 26% over the year, enabling continued investment across all areas of the business.

Employee numbers increased by 4.5% to 3,855, up from 3,688 in 2022, reflecting increased project activity and the acquisition of US pipeline contractor WHC Energy Services by Murphy’s Canadia joint venture Surerus Murphy

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The group order book grew by 31% during the year to £3.31bn in 2023 (2022: £2.52bn) with secured and anticipated orders across the UK, North American and Irish businesses.

Chief executive John Murphy said: “I am pleased to report another year of growth with a resilient, year-on-year improvement in both our financial performance and operational delivery, alongside a continued commitment to delivering world-class infrastructure. These results are underpinned by the dedication and hard work of our teams, our ongoing focus on sustainable business practices and our strong customer relationships.

“As we approach our 75th anniversary in 2026, our ‘Murphy at 75’ vision to be the leading family-owned construction business in the geographies in which we operate is well within reach. Our key focus remains on delivering long-term, sustainable growth, driven by our ability to provide our customers with a reliable and consistent level of performance as we strive to create a positive and lasting legacy across our projects and the communities we serve.”

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