Atkins hits 8% profit target following "really good year"

Atkins UK and Europe chief executive, Nick Roberts.

Consultant Atkins has released a strong set of financial results which show the firm achieving its target margin of 8%, with significant progress being made in turnover and in key markets.

Group pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 2016 are up to £131m from £106m last year and the company’s turnover is up to £1.86bn from £1.75bn last time. Atkins’ balance sheet is healthy too with net funds of £191.7m available.

The firm has seen significant improvement in its UK and Europe performance and is benefiting from two recent major transportation project wins in North America and a trong performance in the Middle East driven by the Central Planning Office in Qatar and peak delivery on metro projects. In what was a challenging year for energy, Atkins has recorded good growth in nuclear, power and renewables and completed the PP&T nuclear acquisition.

Speaking to Infrastructure Intelligence as the results were announced to the market, Nick Roberts, chief executive officer of Atkins in UK and Europe, said: - “It’s been a really good year. In the UK and Europe, revenue is up 5%, to nearly £950m, importantly our profit has gone up by 22% and our margins are up to a market-leading 8%.

“Last year was about consolidation and this year was about growth and we are starting to see the benefits of the changes we have made to our business over the last year. We are still benefitting from the government’s proactive stance towards infrastructure investment and we’re really happy about the work that the NIC is doing in prioritising projects and bringing key areas like the energy portfolio and Crossrail 2 to the fore.

“Our outlook is good too and we have a healthy pipeline including project wins like HS2 delivery partner and Crossrail 2. Obviously we would like some decisions to be made on some key projects such as south east airport capacity.

“We have also made some good progress in some of our key markets. Transportation performed well and in an evolving market we’ve had good progress with Highways England, Network Rail had a challenging year but we continue to do a lot of work on the railway. There’s a healthy pipeline in the water sector too and we are winning and delivering significant programmes in education, energy, airports and in defence infrastructure, so it’s been a good year for us.”

Roberts said he would like to see the speed of decision making on projects improve as this was important for the UK’s productivity and the health of the construction industry. “Clearly the National Infrastructure Commission and the national needs assessment would assist in that area and what we need to happen now is for infrastructure decisions to be made in a timely manner”.

Looking ahead, Roberts said he expected the year to come would include more continued growth, particularly in Atkins’ target markets. “Next year I would hope to be talking more about technological advances in our market. We are already active in intelligent mobility, digital asset management and the overall digitisation of assets for our clients and that’s an area that we anticipate growing over the year ahead,” he said

In common with many in the industry, Roberts said there was uncertainty and slowdown in the economy in the run-up to the EU referendum vote but he remained very confident in Atkins’ outlook and forward pipeline.

Roberts said he attributed much of Atkins’ success over the past year to the agility of the Atkins’ business. “Our ability to move our resources in the right way to meet the demands of our clients has been crucial,” he said.

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