A strong UK order book that includes the new Google headquarters in London has instilled confidence in the company’s bosses, despite problems with its international business.
Its results for the year to 30 June 2013 saw little change on the previous year, but this year and next are looking better, the board said. Waterman Group achieved revenue of £66.8m (2012: £68.8m). The adjusted pre-tax profit before exceptional items was £1.1m (2012: £1.1m). Reported pre-tax profit was £400,000 (2012: £500,000).
Commenting on the results, chief executive Nick Taylor said: “Waterman is in good shape. The results for the period reflect a historic backdrop of challenging trading conditions but, looking forward, our markets are much more positive. We have also re-positioned the business successfully and the result is a solid platform from which we are confident that over the next three years we will deliver strong growth."
"We are particularly enthusiastic about the prospects for our core market in the UK, which generates over 75% of Waterman's revenue. Our clients, many of whom are the major property developers, are much more confident and are starting a wide range of schemes.”
Chairman Roger Fidgen added: “Market conditions have improved in our core markets. This bodes well and we are much more confident about the future. We are now in the first year of a three year plan to drive a sustainable improvement in our financial performance. We anticipate that over this three year period we will build upon the current positive momentum, which we plan will result in a significant improvement in the group's profitability. Our target is to triple the group's adjusted profit before tax over the next three years. The executive team has developed a long term business plan to support this projected growth, which we anticipate will build value for our shareholders.”
During the last financial year, Waterman has withdrawn from China and folded its London-based international operations into its UK teams.
In July the company decided to withdraw from the United Arab Emirates. In the financial year to 30 June 2014 it expects to incur exceptional costs of around £1.9m on this move.
While Waterman's structural business has benefited from recovery in the property sector, its civil and transportation consultancy business has struggled with “legacy operational issues”. This division made an operating loss of £303,000 on revenue of £25.6m last year, on top of a £232,000 loss the previous year. Waterman Transport & Development and Waterman Boreham have been merged together and the restructure of the company and management has now been completed.
Across the whole group, however, employee numbers grew 3% during the year to 990 at 30 June 2013.