PAVING supplier Marshalls reported a return to profit and improving sales in its full year results.
The Birkby-based group, which also has operations at Elland and Brighouse, posted pre-tax profits of £9.2m during 2010 after making losses of £2.4m the previous year.
Operating profits rose to £11.8m from £9.2m on revenue totalling £323.1m against £311.7m last time.
Sales to public sector and commercial clients were 6% higher while sales patio and driveway paving to the DIY market were up by 1% – despite the impact of severe weather at the end of last year.
Chief executive Graham Holden said: “Sales have started to turn up following the difficult trading conditions of the past two years, although market uncertainty remains.
“On balance, the outlook for the public sector and commercial market is mildly positive. The domestic end market showed modest growth in the second half of 2010 and installer order books at the end of February were an encouraging 7.2 weeks.”
Marshalls said it was pursuing “ a broad range of initiatives” to build on its operating strategy combining regional manufacturing and a national network of distribution sites.
The group continued to invest in new products, such as a range of anti-terrorist bollards, which had attracted significant interest worldwide leading to quotations raised so far exceeding £3.5m and specifications secured in excess of £2m.
In the domestic market, Marshalls focused on building brand awareness among customers and developing stronger links with installers through training. It now has 1,640 installation teams across the country.
Marshalls said a site closure programme announced in 2008 had now been completed – reducing costs by £11.4m and lowering its “break-even point” to allowing the group to increase profits earlier when market volumes improve.
Marshalls declared a final dividend of 3.50p a share, which added to an unchanged interim pay-out of 1.75p leaves the total dividend steady at 5.25p.
Mr Holden said: “Through the recession, we have set out to ensure that the business will be in a strong position to benefit when markets improve.
“We have permanently reduced the cost base of the business and now have the lowest cost to market across the widest geographical range.
“Growth opportunities exist and we have the operational and financial flexibility to take advantage of these as they arise.”