Monday 22 January 2018

Canadian projects lift profits at Irish engineering firm Ward & Burke

The Ward & Burke-built footbridge over the River Moy in Ballina
The Ward & Burke-built footbridge over the River Moy in Ballina
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Galway-based specialist engineering company Ward & Burke posted a pre-tax profit of €13.8m last year, up 11pc, as it continued to secure more business in Canada.

Its revenue rose 6pc to €156.9m. The company, which employs almost 400 people, saw its turnover generated in Ireland fall 42pc, or €17m, last year.

However, it said it's hoping to reverse that decline in 2017, having commenced work on projects in Dublin's Docklands and Cork Harbour this year.

The company specialises in drainage and sewage projects, but also undertakes other works such as bridge construction, urban regeneration and other major civil engineering and construction contracts.

Accounts for the company show that its revenue from its Canadian unit rose 24pc to €93.8m. Turnover in the UK climbed 17pc to €39.9m. Its revenue from business in Ireland was €23.2m last year.

The accounts show that the company continued to invest significantly in its business last year, adding €8.5m in fixed assets, with €7.4m of that financed directly from working capital. In the past three years, Ward & Burke has reinvested €28.7m in new plant and equipment.

The company also acquired Cork-based Response Engineering during 2016. It generated turnover of €18.6m in 2014, and a pre-tax profit of €345,000.

This strategic investment means the enlarged group can now provide complete turnkey solutions to clients within the municipal, food, dairy, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. Both companies have collaborated on a number of projects in both Ireland and the UK in the past.

Ward & Burke director Padraig Burke said that the acquisition provided the enlarged group with "a lot of opportunity" in Ireland and abroad, with "significant" employment potential here.

In Canada, the company has worked on projects in cities including Toronto and Calgary.

It is also embarking on additional work in Ohio in the United States this year. Last year, the company bid $9.6m (€9m) for a sewer project in Cleveland.

Last May, Ward & Burke was part of a group of four companies that were awarded a framework contract worth up to £100m (€114m) by Yorkshire Water to undertake all the utility's marine civil and engineering works over the next five years. Works will include the installation of new sea outfall pipes.

Ward & Burke directors said they were satisfied with the group's performance in 2016.

They added that investment in infrastructure by Irish Water has improved the outlook for operations in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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