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Robertson out to create jobs as growth targeted

ROBERTSON Group, the Stirling headquartered conglomerate, has revealed it plans to boost its 1,300-strong UK headcount by 5 per cent, while announcing it is now banking with Santander.

NEW DEAL: Bill Robertson with Jonathan Kelly and the company's group finance director, Stuart Roberts.
NEW DEAL: Bill Robertson with Jonathan Kelly and the company's group finance director, Stuart Roberts.

The developments came as Robertson, which has interests in construction, facilities management, timber frame engineering and infrastructure projects, declared it was working through its strongest and most visible order book to date.

The group, 75 per cent owned by chairman Bill Robertson, said it has orders worth £1.25 billion in the pipeline.

Robertson, which had been a customer of Royal Bank of Scotland, has agreed a three-year facility with Santander covering the group and its business units.

It said the deal will allow the parties to work together on future projects, which could include acquisitions.

Spanish-owned Santander has also taken over the day-to-day transactional activity for the full group.

Mr Robertson said: "Funding for business and banking over the period of the recession went through considerable change and we are delighted to have a banking partner who has consistently demonstrated that they have capital and funds available to support the right business and matching projects.

"Therefore it is enormously refreshing for Robertson to be working with Santander at the start of this post recession period.

"As a group we are focused, more than ever, on understanding fully what our clients need to ensure we work as partners and deliver successful outcomes every time.

"This new partnership with Santander provides a flexible and strong core facility which will allow us to selectively target projects and developments which will enhance our existing strong customer focus.

"Santander has invested the time to understand our business and the markets in which we operate across the UK and this funding support meets our short, medium and long term requirements."

Robertson, which has its registered office in Elgin, said it had maintained growth over the recession, particularly in its construction and facilities management divisions, noting that it has boosted staff numbers by more than 300 during the downturn.

In its latest accounts, for the year ended March 31, 2013, the company noted it was halfway through a five-year strategic plan, under which it is aiming to refocus as an infrastructure, construction and support services group.

The group booked pre-tax profits before exceptional items of £1.3m, down from £3.4m the year before, with turnover sliding by 7.4 per cent to £210m.

Mr Robertson said that while it has been "disappointing to report a drop in sales", he explained that a "significant amount of turnover" would be carried into the 2013/14 financial year.

During the year it took the decision to boost its balance by divesting its PFI (private finance initiative) investments in September.

The move by subsidiary Robertson Capital Projects offloads its interests in Elgin Infrastructure and Robertson Capital Projects investments, to Dalmore Capital, and realised cash inflows of £73m, which were used to pay bank borrowings. The group expects to report a gain on sale of £44m.

Mr Robertson said the group had invested £7m in new PFI investments last year, which had contributed to its net debt position being higher at £58m at year end.

Jonathan Kelly, director for large corporates at Santander said: "The Robertson Group is a leading company in its sector, with an experienced management team who are in a strong position to increase profitability in 2014 and beyond."

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