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Atkins hungry for more acquisitions after profits leap

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CONSULTANT WS Atkins has increased its 'war chest' for more acquisitions after reporting 'strong progress' last week.

The group reports a turnover growth of 30% up to £674M for the year to June 2001 compared to £516.8M in 2000. Profits were increased 14% to £44M.

Growth has come by improving existing business with local authority services, traffic management and facilities management which are all expected to increase further, and by acquisitions, said new chief executive Robin Southwell.

'We intend to continue in this direction and have a number of purchases in sight, ' he said. The company has increased its cash fund to £11.5M against £7.1M in 2000 and has access to further loan money.

Only 3,500 of the 13,000 workforce are civil engineers in the now widely diversified group. Atkins has activities from property design and facilities management to IT and programme and project management, as well as more traditional engineering sectors such as infrastructure design for road, rail and aviation.

Jeffries said the most important development for the firm last year was the award of a groundbreaking outsourcing contract for education services in Southwark Council in London. The contract lasts five years, extendable to 10, and covers 35,000 pupils in 100 schools.

Forty one year old Southwell joined Atkins in April this year, replacing Mike Jeffries who became chairman.

He began his career at BAE in 1981 and went on to become group managing director of customer solutions and support.

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