Keller’s chief executive has stressed his company’s commitment to the UK market after the division returned to profit in 2012.
Justin Atkinson was speaking after the ground engineering specialist doubled its group profits for the year on the back of a strong US performance.
Total revenue was up 14 per cent to £1.3 billion. Its share price has grown 80 per cent in the last year.
The company said the European markets were “very challenging”, with operating profit down 73 per cent to £2.2m, returning a 0.6 per cent margin, after a £2.8m first-half loss.
The UK division, which is focused on two major projects at Victoria Station and Crossrail, had reported operating losses in 2010 and 2011. It now represents just 5 per cent of revenue, or around £60-65m.
Mr Atkinson said the UK division had returned a profit this year, and also stressed the firm is “committed to the UK”.
Mr Atkinson said: “We are a UK domiciled plc and are a world leader in what we do. When I joined the business 20 years ago about 40 per cent of our profits came from the UK.
“Now 5 per cent of our revenue comes from the UK market.”
He added: “I think the UK market will remain difficult. We are aligning ourselves to the companies within the UK market that don’t have specialist in-house arms.”
He said Keller are doing more work for the likes of Kier, Costain and Sir Robert McAlpine, while firms with in-house divisions include Balfour Beatty, Skanskaand Vinci are generally opting to use their own operations.
However, Mr Atkinson pointed out that Vinci is using Keller at Victoria.
He said there was “nothing of any substance” in terms of cost cutting in the UK in 2012, but restructuring was done in continental Europe.
In 2011, before the UK reporting was integrated into Europe and the Middle East, 373 of its 7,000 staff were in the UK, which saw a £3.7m loss on £53m revenue.
The firm closed one UK office and streamlined another.
Asked if the business could change further or if more staff could move abroad, Mr Atkinson said: “We have been operating in a difficult climate for some time, we have already made all our cuts.”
He said Keller can also bring technical expertise to a sophisticated project where bigger firms may not always have in house capabilities.
Mr Atkinson said the aim will be to replace its bigger schemes, such as at Victoria Station and on Crossrail, as they come to an end next year.