The Board is pleased to announce that, against a difficult economic background, trading for the period has remained resilient. Revenues in the period have been maintained albeit with margins remaining under pressure. We continue to benefit from our 80% exposure to the private sector and our strategic decision to expand into retail and overseas in recent years.
Our order book for delivery in the current period increased by 7% to £573m (October 2010: £533m) despite the reduction in the number of larger sized projects in the market, with the total order book standing at £709m (October 2010: £690m). Our balance sheet remains robust and we anticipate a net cash position of approximately £25m at December 2011 (December 2010: £37m).
Our London Fit Out business, despite a competitive market, has maintained its revenues and is still securing a steady pipeline of smaller sized projects, helped by our focus on quality of delivery. We continue to expand and improve our reputation and offer in the technology, highend residential and hotel sectors.
Our Retail Fit Out and Food Retail businesses have maintained their market leading positions and are receiving strong allocations under their client frameworks for the current financial year. In the period we have successfully added new framework relationships with the John Lewis Partnership, Nationwide Building Society and Everything Everywhere.
We expect our UK Construction business to maintain revenues in line with last year, but at lower margins. The increased allocations from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) together with other positive trends in our London business will benefit us in the second half.
Regional disparities continue to widen with the South East and London enjoying a markedly stronger flow of work opportunities that will allow us to offset the significant negative problems we previously identified in the South West. As a consequence of this disparity we have also downsized our North East business and discontinued our Affordable Housing activity in the South West. We expect the remainder of the South West business to return to profitable trading by the year end.
In line with our stated strategy to expand in overseas growth markets, we are investing further in management and acquisitions. In Continental Europe we have successfully completed during the period the acquisition of Alpha International, a Paris-based retail fit out company, and this together with our existing retail offer, has considerably enhanced our capabilities to service our international retailing clients. In addition, our European Office Fit Out business has delivered an increased number of projects for key international clients, and we have appointed a new Managing Director for the business.
In Asia we have integrated Realys, the Shanghai based design-led project management company acquired in April 2011. We have seen continued investment by international companies into Asia, and are now benefitting from increased margins and volumes which we anticipate will enhance the division’s results for the current financial year.
The Middle East has had a slower start to the year. In particular we have been hindered in the completion of our works due to delay in the completion of base buildings in Abu Dhabi where we are involved in the first five fit outs for international clients on Sowwah Island.
As has been well reported in recent months, there has been a slow down in the European economy and we are not immune from this impact. We remain confident of meeting the Board’s expectations for the full year in respect of underlying profits, albeit with a further shift in profit weighting towards the second half. We continue to pursue growth opportunities both organically and by acquisition particularly overseas and to broaden our service offering to key international clients.
Shareholders will next be updated on the Group interim results for the six months to 31December 2011 on 6 March 2012.