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Turnover down: Builder of schools in structural flaw row sees 74pc profit drop

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Works: Repairs in progress during remediation works on Tyrellstown Educate Together school

Works: Repairs in progress during remediation works on Tyrellstown Educate Together school

Works: Repairs in progress during remediation works on Tyrellstown Educate Together school

Turnover at a Co Tyrone off-site construction firm has dropped by around 27pc to £24.8m (€29.3m), its latest accounts show.

Western Building Systems (WBS) in Coalisland specialises in modular buildings and off-site construction, carrying out work in the commercial, education and health sectors.

Pre-tax profit was also down 74pc to £1m from £4.3m.

However, its accounts for the year ending April 2019 - which are dated November 29 - state that its current order book was "already very strong" and that post year-end trading was also strong.

In 2018 the Northern Irish firm was caught up in a controversy over structural issues at 42 schools it had built here in the Republic.

Legal proceedings were started by Education Minister Joe McHugh over the cost of remediation works to the schools.

However, the company said that the schools were certified by the department as being free from defects. It has also taken legal action against the department for non-payment.

Western Building Systems is owned by the McCloskey family.

"The financial results for the year ending April 30 were considered satisfactory, set against a background of increased competition in the market and reduced margins," said WBS director Martin McCloskey in a strategic report filed with the company accounts.

"The company continues to focus on the education, health and commercial construction sectors. The outlook for the 2019/20 year is encouraging and company directors expect performance to be in line with 2019."

The company said that risks and uncertainties facing it included euro exchange rates, controlling costs, maintaining sales levels.

And it said Brexit would also have an effect on the company though it did not detail any possible impact.

Most funds were invested in sterling bank accounts though some sales and purchases were denominated in foreign currencies. To mitigate risk, the company enters into forward rate contracts.

Western Building Systems had £8.3m in cash at bank and in hand, down from £9.5m.

During the year the company added three production staff and four administration staff - bringing the size of its workforce to 61.

Its total wage bill was £2.5m, while its highest-paid director was on a salary of £75,481.

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