THE venerable Turner group has returned to profit amid tough trading conditions although it took a £1.5 million hit following a landmark court ruling on women’s pensions which could impact on many firms.

The Glasgow-based industrial conglomerate made £3.4m profit before tax in the latest financial year after losing £1m in the preceding period.

In the accounts for the family owned Turner & Co (Glasgow) group chairman Alan Turner said the results reflected a substantial improvement in its performance.

“The result is all the more satisfying as it comes against the backdrop of continued political uncertainty and highly competitive markets,” said Mr Turner.

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Founded in 1912 to support the then emerging car manufacturing industry, the group has operations working in areas ranging from aircraft generator maintenance to windfarm support. It also owns the Turner vehicle hire business.

The accounts, for the period ended 29 March 2019, note the group provided £1.5m in respect of an increase in pension liabilities in the latest financial year.

Termed an equalisation provision, this reflected the impact of a High Court judgement in October last year following an action concerning the pension entitlements of women who belonged to schemes run by Lloyds Banking Group.

The court found women who had saved in the 1990s under schemes with guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) arrangements in place should get the same treatment as men, putting some in line for back-dated awards.

“The issues determined by the judgement arise in relation to many other occupational schemes,” said directors of Turner & Co in the accounts.

Specialists have said the total costs for all firms affected could run into billions.

However, the Turner & Co scheme remained in surplus after the group made the provision.

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The group was in a strong financial position at the end of the latest year, with net assets of £135m.

Mr Turner said it was well placed to invest in both organic growth and new ventures.

The group continues to seek to acquire businesses in areas with growth opportunities.

Priorities include broadening the group’s sales base, margin improvement and strict control of overheads.

Turner & Co increased its exposure to the emerging renewable energy business through the acquisition of Ecoliving in 2016.

In a statement issued yesterday, the group noted the Turner Iceni business added to its fleet in the latest year by making a significant investment in two re-purposed vessels to serve existing offshore wind farm support activities, which it described as an industry first.

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TCL Tanker Rental and Blue Cube Portable Cold Stores continued their fleet expansion programme.

The group supplies access, power generation and flame protection equipment used in industries in which conditions have been challenging in recent months, such as oil and gas and construction.

“Market conditions continue to be extremely challenging in the engineering and support services division with continuing economic uncertainty having a negative impact on demand and sustaining a downward price pressure in oil and gas related activities,” wrote directors in the accounts.

They said market conditions remain tough for the hire division, which operates in a highly competitive market.

However, the aviation division produced another strong performance.

The group restructured its operating model during the latest financial year to give its trading companies more autonomy and took a £0.28m exceptional charge for related costs.

“This is improving their agility and allowing them to focus on key objectives,” said Turner & Co. “Improvements came almost immediately and the company is pleased to see this is having a continued positive effect in the current year.” It added: “Prospects look good going forward.”

Turnover rose to £155.4m in the latest year from £148.5m last time. The group has sold the Team Q Maintenance and Power Electrics operations in recent months.