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Turner & Co enjoys a historic year amid profits lift

Turner & Co, Glasgow's family-owned industrial conglomerate, has marked its centenary year with a strong rise in pre-tax profits, according to accounts just lodged at Companies House.

But the group which does 90% of its business in the UK sees little sign of any improvement in the economy.

Turner added £3.5 million to turnover, taking it to £271.2m, a slowdown after the previous year's rise of £40m.

Despite a squeeze on margins across the group, it added an impressive £1.9m to pre-tax profits which swelled to £14.5m. That continues a strong recovery from 2010, when profits almost halved from £17.1m to £8.7m.

The group, led by chairman Gordon Turner, whose biggest division is facilities management and diesel engineering, manages much of the MoD's property in Scotland. Last year it embarked on a joint venture with US giant Fluor Corporation to provide infrastructure and logistics support for UK armed forces operations in Afghanistan. It also spans aviation services, scaffolding and hire drive.

In his statement, Mr Turner says the result was slightly better than expected and represents a meaningful uplift on the previous year.

He adds: "There are few of our activities which have proved to be immune from the well-established economic conditions, and with little sign of any improvement on the horizon, modest growth in profits is a reasonable and realistic expectation."

A dividend of £1.6m goes to the family shareholders, the same as the previous year, after falling to nil in 2010. The highest-paid director's remuneration edged up £8000 to £365,000.

Turner & Co, based in Govan but with a strong presence in Aberdeen, has cut average headcount further, from 2191 to 2059, some 400 below its 2009 level.

It is debt-free and it ended the year with a healthy £48m in cash, modestly up on the previous year but 50% higher than 2010. Investment was maintained at £14m, while shareholder funds were almost unchanged at a solid £123m.

Turner's major division, covering its diesel engineering and facilities management businesses, saw profits ease from £10.2m to £9.7m on a £5m rise in sales to £240m.

The chairman cites contract changes and challenging market conditions. He repeats last year's warning that aviation services is a very competitive market with margins always under pressure, but nevertheless reports a 20% rise in turnover to £9.4m and a 63% leap in net pre-tax profit to £1.4m.

Hire drive also racked up a 66% profits rise to £2.5m, on sales up £1.5m at £13.8m. Construction access saw the disposal of a business, cutting turnover from £13m to £7.9m, and the division slipped from a £165,000 profit to a £68,000 loss. Operations shrank from £37m to £31m.

Mr Turner concludes: "We continue to pursue our objectives for growth by improvement of what we currently do, investment in existing operations and acquisitions."

Turner began managing property for the MoD 25 years ago, while Fluor operates 65 bases for the US in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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