Northern Ireland

£26m drop in turnover for Henry Brothers of Magherafelt

One of Northern Ireland's largest building firms has said a big drop in annual turnover is because it has stopped submitting heavily discounted bids for contracts.

The details are contained in the annual accounts of Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) Ltd.

In 2011 it made pre-tax profits of £580,000 on turnover of £28m.

In 2010 pre-tax profits were of £1.1m on turnover of £54m.

The firm's directors said some of their competitors are bidding for work at "unsustainable levels resulting in negative margins."

They added that they had taken a strategic decision in 2010 not to pursue cut price bids.

A note in the accounts states: "The directors will be more selective in targeting tender opportunities where they are confident of a positive return.

"The basis of this decision was to defend the company's balance sheet whilst providing sufficient activity within the business to retain key staff until more profitable work became available."

Henry Brothers (Magherafelt) is the largest company in the Henry Group.

Group turnover for 2011 was £37m producing pre-tax profits of £688,000. In 2010, turnover was £64m and pre-tax profits £1.5m.

Over the year the number of employees fell from 431 to 352, reducing pay roll costs from £13m to £10m.

The highest paid director saw their salary fall from £183,000 to £73,000.

The construction sector in Northern Ireland is mired in a depression as the bursting of a house price bubble continues to take a heavy toll.

However, many of the largest building firms have managed to retain their profitability by finding work outside Northern Ireland.

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