Business Irish

Friday 15 December 2017

Galway engineering firm makes €12.6m profit

Ward & Burke: Canadian expansion. Photo: PA
Ward & Burke: Canadian expansion. Photo: PA
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Operating profit at Galway civil engineering group Ward & Burke more than doubled last year to €12.6m as expansion of its operations in Canada fuelled its bottom line.

Revenue at the group rose 35pc to €103.8m, according to accounts seen by the Irish Independent.

The bulk of the company's turnover is now generated in Canada, where the firm has been involved in projects such as the construction of micro-tunnels for sewer systems, and the construction of a fuel pipeline at Toronto's Pearson Airport.

The firm was established in 2001 and in Ireland primarily focuses on the sanitary services sector, providing pipelines, treatment plants, reservoirs and water storage facilities for customers including the Department of the Environment.

The company posted €47.3m in revenue from its Canadian operations last year, 81pc higher than in 2013. It opened an office in Toronto in 2010.

Last year, the firm began a project to build a huge sewer pipe under the Scugog River in Kawartha, Ontario. The micro-tunnelling operation saw Ward & Burke use machinery guided by computers and lasers to drill several metres a day.

Earlier this year, the company began a sewer tunnelling project in Calgary, Alberta, installing a 2km-long piple.

In the UK, its revenue rose 30pc to €25.4m, while turnover from its Irish business edged 1pc higher to €32.1m. The company had total borrowings of €8.4m at the end of 2014, with €5.5m of that tied to lease and hire purchase obligations. Ward & Burke employs 273 people, with the number increasing to 400 during peak contractual commitments. It paid almost €18m in wages and salaries last year.

A spokesman said the company needed to keep attracting graduate civil and mechanical engineers as well as other skilled craftsmen in order to keep up with growth.

Ward & Burke has sponsored engineering graduates in master degree programmes at NUI Galway as well as MIT in Boston.

The company said it's confident on the outlook for the remainder of 2015, particularly with its operations in Canada and the UK. It said business in Ireland remains challenging, with tendering opportunity being the single biggest obstacle to increasing turnover and developing resources.

Irish Independent

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