Kier Group appoints new chairman as profits rise

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FTSE 250 construction group Kier has announced the appointment of Drax chairman Philip Cox as its next chairman, as it reports growing profits despite the difficulties that many construction groups have faced since the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Underlying pre-tax profits in the six months to December were 12 per cent higher than the same period last year, at £46.3m, despite a 1 per cent dip in revenues.

On a statutory basis profits jumped more than 700 per cent, though the previous year’s figures were skewed by much higher one-off costs.

Many construction groups have suffered since last June’s Brexit vote, but Kier said it has “taken advantage of market opportunities and strengthened our future pipeline” in the UK.

However, it did report an additional £33m provision related to the costs of winding down its business in the Caribbean. Kier has been working to simplify its businessess to focus on core operations, and sold a consulting business last October.

Haydn Mursell, Kier chief executive, said:

Today’s results reflect the ongoing financial and operational discipline employed across the group and the strength of our flexible, integrated business model.

The group’s breadth provides some resilience against economic uncertainty and we continue to shape Kier to focus on our core competencies. We are encouraged by the pipeline in the property and residential businsses and our healthy order books of approximately £9bn in the construction and services businesses.

Separately, Kier announced that Drax chairman Philip Cox will join the company as chairman designate on July 1, and take over the role after its next annual general meeting. He will succeed Phil White, who will retire after nine years as chair of the company.

Mr White said:

I am delighted that Philip has agreed to accept the role of Chairman designate, as his extensive track record demonstrates that he has the range of skills and experience for the role. I would like to welcome Philip to the Board and I am looking forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a smooth handover of duties.

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