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WSP blames fall in highways work for dip in UK staff numbers

Consultant WSP has confirmed that staff numbers in the UK fell by 275 last year, largely due to enforced redundancies in its highways business.

The firm said its transport and infrastructure business had a tough year in 2011. Staff numbers in its UK transport business fell from 806 to 643 and from 2,350 to 2,108 globally. Overall, staff numbers were broadly constant.

It said it was particularly tough in the UK, which saw a significant reduction in public expenditure especially in higher margin consultancy activities. Headline revenues for the year ending 31 December 2011 fell by 5% to £194.2M from £203.5M with profits falling to £8M from £12.9M. In the UK transport and infrastructure business revenues fell £10M to £73.2M and profits to just £400,000 compared to £4.8M in 2010.

“The UK public sector spending cuts have had a major impact on the performance of our business,” it said. “The UK roads sector has been particularly hard hit with capital expenditure severely curtailed.”

It added that in April it successfully retained its place on the Highways Agency’s Professional Services Framework following a process which halved the number of Highways Agency suppliers, but that “little work of substance has materialised since then”.

For the company overall revenue was up 1% to £717.3M but pre-tax profits down slightly at £18.9M. Net debt on 31 December 2011 stood at £68.3M.

It said the results reflect the costs associated with restructuring the business and reshaping it to focus on the sectors and clients that continue to provide opportunities.

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