Forrest order book ‘stronger than ever’

Preston-based social housing support services company Forrest said sales rose 11.5% to £52.3m during the year to September 2010.

Operating profit was up 9.5% to £6m from £5.5m in 2009. The company provides regeneration, refurbishment and responsive maintenance services to social housing groups and local authorities.

Lee McCarren, chief executive, said the company's order book was stronger than ever in its 55 years. Demand for carbon reduction technologies such as solar panels, energy efficient boilers and smart-metering had been particularly strong as more social landlords tackle the low carbon agenda in order to drive down energy costs for their customers.

Robert Morgan, chairman of Forrest, added: "Despite challenging market conditions and several high profile business failures in the sector last year, Forrest has continued to demonstrate its ability to deliver sustained, profitable growth in its key markets. This has been achieved by a clear commitment to customer service, a focus on providing essential, integrated support services for social housing groups, and strong business and financial management.

"The group's cash generation also remains ahead of budget, placing it in a strong position to continue investing for forward growth."

Forrest, previously Herbert T Forrest, was established in 1955 as a small joinery and manufacturing firm in Preston. Today, it manages 47 formal partnering contracts and refurbishes or maintains over 20,000 homes a year throughout the north of England.

The group, which is backed by private equity firm LDC, increased its workforce 10% to more than 500 in the past six months, including 50 apprentices.

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