Profits at Taggart top €36m


Profits at Northern Ireland building group Taggart Holdings topped €36 million last year, according to figures released by the company yesterday.

The building firm, owned by founders and directors John and Michael Taggart, said total turnover for 2006 was €164.5 million, a 130 per cent increase on the €70.4 million it recorded the previous year.

The company said a large proportion of the increase in turnover resulted from its takeover during the year of northern England-based house builder Cecil M Yuill Ltd.

Stripping out a €6.4 million contribution from joint ventures, group turnover for the year was €158.1 million. There was no joint venture contribution in 2005.

The group said operating profits were €36.4 million in 2006, more than double the surplus of €17.9 million it earned the previous year.

Chairman Frank McGuigan said Cecil M Yuill also contributed to profit growth during the year.

The group's interest bill for 2006 jumped to €11.35 million from €3.6 million a year earlier.

This and other charges left it with profits before tax of €25 million last year, 30 per cent ahead of the €19 million it reported in 2005.

After an €8 million tax bill, profit for the financial year stood at €17 million, compared with €12.7 million in 2005.

Taggart Holdings has offices in Northern Ireland, the Republic, Britain, Europe and the US.

The company said yesterday it had a total landbank valued at €860 million. It had properties in the Republic, Northern Ireland, eastern Europe and New Zealand. It had over 5,000 individual plots, all at various stages of the planning process.

Looking ahead, Mr McGuigan said there had been a marked slowdown in house building in the Republic, with 70,000 new homes likely to be completed this year compared with 90,000 in 2006.

"In Northern Ireland we are seeing continued strong growth in land and house prices, both being fuelled by a lack of supply.

"The lack of supply will continue to underpin the strong demand for the foreseeable future, although we expect the rate of house-price increase to start easing off towards the end of this year. The favourable political climate should help boost the local economy."

The company has also been investing in its Manchester-based operations, and expects this to become a major contributor to profits over the next two to five years.

Mr McGuigan said the Manchester office had yet to make a contribution to revenues, but said it has a number of residential sites in the region that would contribute to sales this year.

During the year it joined forces with Dublin-based Goodbody Stockbrokers' private clients arm in the purchase of Faster Estates Ltd in Northern Ireland for €150 million, as well as a number of sites near Belfast.

During 2006 it also began building work on a development in Trim, Co Meath.

"Sales on this development were strong, with the first three phases selling out over one weekend," Mr McGuigan said.

In the US it had bought a "small mixed-use development site" in Florida, and was now taking this through the planning process.

Mr McGuigan said Taggart was continuing to monitor developments in central and eastern Europe.