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Buoyant profits for Barr + Wray

SPA and swimming pool company Barr + Wray Group has hailed growth in the Middle East and a bumper Center Parcs contract as the main reasons for an 11% rise in profits.

ON A WAVE: Barr + Wray's Alister MacDonald said Center Parcs contract gave firm a boost. Pictre: Chris James
ON A WAVE: Barr + Wray's Alister MacDonald said Center Parcs contract gave firm a boost. Pictre: Chris James

Accounts soon to be filed at Companies House will show a dip in group turnover from around £17.9 million to £17.1m.

However an improvement in margins will see operating profits up from £1.19m to £1.32m.

Chief executive Alister MacDonald said pre-tax profits had increased by a similar amount from £1.2m to £1.3m.

Mr MacDonald said the £4m deal with Center Parcs to install filtration, pumping and water treatment plants at a new holiday village in Woburn Forest, Bedfordshire, was a major contributor to the results in the year to September 2013. The project will continue to have an impact in the current financial year. In Scotland Barr + Wray is close to commissioning the new 50 metre pool at the Aberdeen Aquatics Centre and has also worked on the refurbishment of the Paisley Lagoon and swimming facilities in Linwood.

The Glasgow company also continued to see work from its part in installing swimming pools for the London Olympics. The decommissioning for that ran on into February last year with Sport England now looking to build 10 new pools around the UK from the former Olympic equipment.

Mr MacDonald said: "We are actively looking at opportunities under the legacy plan to rebuild these pools around the UK as permanent establishments.

"The first one was done [recently] at Bridlington. Hopefully over a period of time there could be up to 10 pools and we are written in as the installert."

While trading in the UK and western Europe remains subdued Mr MacDonald said he saw potential for growth in eastern Europe.

Separately the Dubai office is expected to continue its growth path, particularly with the city winning the race to hosts the World Expo 2020. Mr MacDonald said: "There is talk they will have to double the number of hotel rooms in the next seven years for the Expo. So there are lots of good signs in the Middle East."

While China remains difficult Mr MacDonald was confident that having offices in Hong Kong and Beijing would pay dividends in the long term. He said: "We have had a few successes but there are all of the cultural and political difficulties of working in that country.

"It is one of the most difficult markets we have tried to enter but we are there because of the potential. There are more than 1000 five-star hotels there either under construction or development, which is more than anywhere else in the world. We are hopeful that in a number of years time we will have some bigger financial success stories there."

He said the company, which works for upmarket hotel chains such as Four Seasons, Jumeriah and Ritz Carlton, had to focus on the upper end of the market when bidding for work overseas.

He said: "In Asia there are lots of people in the market but at a much lower level of sophistication and quality than [Barr + Wray].

"We will never compete with the locals on price. We have to compete with them on the standard and quality of installation."

Mr MacDonald said he was "hopeful" on prospects for 2014 and said first quarter trading had been in line with internal targets.

The company employs 90 of its staff in the UK.

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