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Atkins hails era of ‘calm confidence’ after profits boost

Atkins UK and Europe has posted buoyant half year results with operating profits up 33% to £29.8M, saying government investment in infrastructure is boosting industry confidence.

The company edged nearer its 8% operating margin target, with margins in the UK and Europe at 6.5%, up from 5.2% from the same period last year. Revenue in the region has risen to £458.7M up from £428.3M for the same period last year.

UK and Europe chief executive Nick Roberts said: “There’s a calm confidence around the business.”

So far this year the company has seen major milestones including the opening of the Birmingham New Street Station and the completion of Crossrail tunnelling. The company welcomed the new National Infrastructure Commission saying it “will help build consensus behind the funding and delivery of the UK’s critical national infrastructure and harness cross party political support to gain certainty around the infrastructure pipeline”.

Birmingham New Street

Source: Ross Jukes Photography / Network Rail

The Atkins designed Birmingham New Street station which opened in September.

In terms of markets, he said that within his area, although there was still some uncertainty over rail, there were improvements in transport and water markets, partly because within water AMP6 is now underway and also because of the government’s investment in infrastructure.

However, he said the reviews into Network Rail, particularly the Hendy Review, and the previous hiatus on some schemes such as Midland Mainline, caused uncertainty.  He said: “That sort of pipeline uncertainty causes the industry to pause, not just us.”

He said the company continued to work closely with Network Rail on its schemes and was working on the introduction of next generation signalling design, looking at the technology already used in Scandinavia.

Within transport it is part of Highways England’s collaborative delivery framework is also working on smart motorways. Roberts said: “Whether it’s within the Northern Powerhouse or anywhere else in the UK we see reasonably robust spending plans.”

In terms of recruitment in the region, in the last year 380 new graduates and apprentices have been brought into the business, 30% of whom are female.

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