Northern Ireland

Construction firm McLaughlin and Harvey makes £6m loss

McLaughlin and Harvey
Image caption McLaughlin and Harvey has an order book of more than £350m and expects to return to profit this year

One of Northern Ireland's largest construction groups made a pre-tax loss of £6m in 2015.

McLaughlin and Harvey said the loss related to "contracts procured during the depths of the economic downturn".

The results also recognise further predicted losses on those contracts that are due to be completed by the end of this year.

The group has an order book of more than £350m and expects to return to profit this year.

Group turnover in 2015 was up by 25% from £380m to £475m.

McLaughlin and Harvey is based in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, and also has a major Scottish-based business.

The two businesses were consolidated into McLaughlin and Harvey Holdings in October with that company showing a profit of £1.3m on turnover of £81m in its first two months of operation.

Analysis: BBC News NI Economics and Business Editor John Campbell

The cusp of downturn and recovery can be a tricky time for major construction firms.

They will have agreed fixed prices for big contracts which will include estimates of what they'll have to pay sub-contractors.

But as the economy improves those sub-contractors will have a bigger choice of jobs and so can demand higher prices.

That's what seems to have happened with McLaughlin and Harvey.

It may also feature in the £5m loss posted by another big firm, O'Hare and McGovern, which is blamed on 'supply chain challenges' on a GB contract.

Employment across the group stands at 768 and it has net assets of almost £40m.

The firm's current major contracts include the redevelopment of Luton Airport and it is understood to be bidding for other airport work.

Its recent Northern Ireland projects include the extension of the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

However, like all of Northern Ireland's largest building firms, it now does the majority of its work elsewhere.