McAleer & Rushe double profits as city set for growth

An artists impression of one of McAleer&Rushes most imposing developments at Bedford Square
An artists impression of one of McAleer&Rushes most imposing developments at Bedford Square

The Northern Ireland building firm behind a large share of the redevelopment of Belfast doubled its profits in 2016 as business levels in the province begin a return to heights not seen since before the property crash.

McAleer & Rushe, one of the UK’s largest design and build construction companies up £5m on the previous year, and turnover increasing by 34% to £242m.

The company employs 270 people and it focuses on commercial office, residential, student accommodation and turnkey hotel projects across a range of brands.

The Cookstown based company is set to celebrate 50 years in business this autumn and has focused on delivering sustained growth in recent years building on its 20-year footprint across the UK.

Recent project starts in Belfast and Dublin, coupled with close to 20 projects across GB, will contribute to turnover of circa £300m in 2017.

Commenting on the results and the company’s 50-year milestone chairman Seamus McAleer said: “Over the last number of years we have taken a targeted and strategic approach to business development and the whole team has contributed to the success we are currently enjoying, in this our 50th year.”

Chief executive Eamonn Laverty paid tribute to the workforce.

“The quality of our staff and our design and build teams have been pivotal to our success and to the delivery of sustainable growth across the UK and Ireland,” he said.

“With £500m of contracted work at this point and the experienced team we have in place, we are looking forward, with confidence, to further building on these very positive financial results in 2017 and beyond.”

The firm has been responsible for a number of recent developments including a new hotel on the site of the former College of Business Studies in Blackstaff Square and the new offices for Belfast City Council on Adelaide Street.

It is also behind phase two of the city centre development at Bedford Square; a new 17-storey office building providing 182,598 sq ft of grade A office accommodation, as well as the refurbishment of the listed William Ewart building to create a further 34,942 sq ft of space.

The firm’s results come as commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton forecast further strong growth in the Belfast market and beyond.

The total investment figure in Q1 was £11.6mn, with transactions mainly driven by the retail sector. This is down from £69mn in the same period last year.

Notable transactions in the retail sector included Iceland investments on the Antrim Road (£1.3mn) and Newtownards Road (£1.325mn), Belfast, and a Next investment on Church Street Coleraine at £0.99m.

In the office sector, Lambert Smith Hampton sold Chancery House in central Belfast for £1.685m while Elizabeth House sold for £1.21m in the first quarter.

In the industrial sector, LSH sold a building in Duncrue Industrial Estatefor £1.1mm.

“Investment activity has been low in Q1 2017 principally due to a restricted supply,” said Neil McShane, director of capital markets at Lambert Smith Hampton, Belfast.

“We are however aware of around £200m of deals in legal processes or where there is a sale agreed paving the way for a significant increase in activity as the year progresses.”