Costain sees record half-year order book

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A RAFT of new contracts worth more than £900m helped infrastructure group Costain notch up a record half-year order book despite tough construction markets.

The group reported a 20 per cent hike in its order book to an all-time high of £2.9bn after winning and extending a host of contracts in recent months, including upgrading Thames Water’s network, improving a major road in Lincolnshire and overhauling power lines in the south east.

But the group saw interim pre-tax profits plunge to £3.1m from £14.7m a year earlier as its bottom line suffered hits including £3.7m in costs from its failed merger with road and rail maintenance firm May Gurney, as well as tough comparisons from a year earlier when figures were boosted by a one-off pension accounting transfer.

On an underlying basis, operating profits edged 3 per cent higher to £10.7m in the six months to June 30.

David Allvey, chairman of Costain, said it was an “encouraging start to the year”.