Sisk’s sale of quarrying unit hits pretax profits

Engineering firm’s parent, Sicon Ltd, said its operating profits trebled in 2013 to €7.9 million

The sale of a loss-making quarrying operation hit pretax profits at building and engineering specialist Sisk last year

The sale of a loss-making quarrying operation hit pretax profits at building and engineering specialist Sisk last year

 

The sale of a loss-making quarrying operation hit pretax profits at building and engineering specialist Sisk last year, the latest figures show.

Sisk’s parent, Sicon Ltd, said its operating profits more than trebled in 2013 to €7.9 million from €2.5 million in the final 11 months of the previous year.

However, the group reported a sharp fall in pretax profits to €1.5 million from €14 million, which it blamed on once-off charges. The largest of these was a non-cash writedown from the sale of its loss-making Stone Developments subsidiary, which operates two quarries in Ireland and a sales operation in Belgium. Sicon said Stone was non-core and had been losing money for years. It decided to sell the business in 2013.

Its numbers show shareholders’ funds remained unchanged at €50.3 million. At the same time, it cut its debts, made up of bank loans and overdrafts, to €15.1 million from €20.8 million.

Sales for the 12 months of 2013 were €774.4 million, about 9 per cent down on the €852 million recorded during the 11-month period in 2012.

Commenting on the figures, Sicon chairman Liam Nagle said the group traded profitably and all of its businesses had responded to the challenges posed during the year.

“We are optimistic about the prospects for the group in 2014 and beyond,” he said. “The balance of the business is good, with the UK now representing the single biggest market for us. We have a stabilised business in Ireland and have established a foothold in the Middle East. . . We are well positioned to make progress in each of these markets in the coming years.”

Sicon said trading in the Republic was generally positive, despite the difficult construction environment. The group has a strong order book for this year with a “good line of sight into 2015”.

In the UK, the group secured a number of energy, civil engineering and large value contracts during the year. It also has a strong order book for 2014 and said it has a pipeline of opportunities for 2015.

Recently it emerged Sisk had won a €20 million contract to build a lab for the Pirbright Institute, for research into bird flu and other animal diseases. Earlier this year, it was awarded a €24.5 million housing development in Clapham in London.