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Rok on the acquisition trail in race for repairs

Rok Group is recruiting 50 to 60 specialist workers a month and looking to buy up businesses as it seeks to ride out the credit crunch by focusing on its traditional strengths of repair and maintenance. 

The company announced last week that it was closing down its commercial property development activities and scaling back work on major projects so it could push further resources into repairs and maintenance work, where it is continuing to experience rapid growth.

The company is looking to move 200 staff from major projects into other divisions and a spokeswoman added it expected the workforce to have grown over the past year by around 10 per cent to more than 5,500 by the end of 2008.

She said: “We are expanding recruitment in building and maintenance as that sector is growing. We are actively recruiting as we want to deliver services through our own people rather than subcontractors. We are looking for plumbing, heating and electrical specialists.”

The spokeswoman said Rok is still looking to buy up firms in East Anglia, Wales and Northern Ireland to expand its geographical reach.

She said: “We want companies which are going concerns and well respected. We are not interested in failing companies to buy work. If we buy a company we will be looking to retain people and use their skills to expand our services.”

The group’s interim management statement for the first six months of 2008 said commercial property saw an operating loss of £2.7 million and the company was facing £11.8m in exceptional closure costs and impairment charges.

Rok chief executive Garvis Snook said: “The funds that will be realised will be used to make further acquisitions to underpin our core building and maintenance businesses.”

Continuing operation showed revenues were up 37 per cent on the same period last year from £398.8m to £546.7m with pre-tax profits up 22 per cent to £12.4m.