Marshalls step ahead of big chill

Marshalls, the Huddersfield-based paving specialist, blamed the bad weather for £5m in lost sales but said the snow could not ruin a good year of recovery.

December's Arctic blast which left thick snow covering most of the country meant its paving slabs could not be laid which caused a steep decline in orders.

In addition, the big chill disrupted work at its quarries and manufacturing plants, wiping a total of about 800,000 from its profits.

Despite the disappointing end to 2010, revenues for the year increased by four per cent to 323m, helped by a six per cent rise in sales to the public sector and businesses.

It marks a good recovery for the firm which earlier this year said half-year profits reached 7.5m in the six months to June 30, recovering from an 82 per cent slump to 4m a year earlier when the construction industry was hammered by the recession.

Marshalls' business in the public sector remained strong throughout 2010 but chief executive Graham Holden said it was "inevitable" that government cutbacks would lead to a fall-off in work in the sector in 2011.

However, the private sector started increasing its spending on building projects in 2010 and Mr Holden expected its growth to continue, making up for a predicted shortfall in public sector work.

Mr Holden said: "There is evidence that in the commercial sector, projects that had been put on hold as the recession took hold are now starting up again."

Marshalls also hoped to grow its share of the public sector market through its recent diversification into other products, such as anti-terrorist bollards designed to protect public buildings from attacks.