Outlook clears for Pochin

Pochin said it was more focussed and stable following disposals of non-core parts of the business and strong growth in construction turnover.

The Cheshire-based contractor, investor and developer's results for the six months to the end of November 2012 showed a profit after tax on continuing activities of £500,000 (2011: £490,000) and a loss from discontinued activities of £230,000 (2011: £820,000) which combine in an overall profit for the period of £270,000 (2011: £330,000 loss).

Revenue for the period from continuing activities was £43.3m. The comparable figure for 2011 was £30.7m. No interim dividend was proposed.

Pochin's bank facilities were renewed to 31 October 2014 and debt continued to be reduced.

The disposal of the loss-making concrete pumping business was completed on 31 July 2012 and the group now comprises construction and property divisions.

In property, the group continued to exit joint ventures "with the result that the group is now a more focused business". The statement to the London Stock Exchange on Thursday said this "will lead to a simplification of the group structure and a corresponding reduction in overheads."

The statement added: "The property investment portfolio continues to provide steady rental income with largely maintained levels of occupancy. A number of non-speculative development schemes have been undertaken, including the successful completion of a new head office for TATA Chemicals Europe in Northwich. Progress in disposing of non-core holdings remains slow, reflecting the illiquid market in regional secondary property."

In construction, the division increased turnover by 30% over the same period in 2011 whilst maintaining operating margins. During the period, the division completed projects for Nestlé and Rolls-Royce and has a forward order book in excess of £70m.

The group's finance director, John Edwards, will be replaced by Nigel Rawlings with effect from 1 February 2013. He was formerly chief financial officer and chief executive of Assura Group and was formerly a non-executive director of Stobart Group.

Shares in Pochin opened up 1p at 30p, valuing the business at £6.24m.

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