SERVICES provider Serco boosted turnover and pre-tax profits in the six months to June 30, it revealed today.
The international group posted sales of £2.34bn, up 4.3% and a 7.8% improvement in profit before tax of £120.1m.
The group owns 50% of the Merseyrail and Northern Rail franchises and earlier this year bought the UK public sector arm of call centre specialist Vertex Data Sciences for £55.5m, including a Kirkby operation employing 350 staff.
Serco also signed a deal with Speke-based catalogues and online retail group Shop Direct in May to manage its call centre operations for 10 years and is proposing to close two of the group’s four call centres with the loss of 1,000 jobs and the possibility of further redundancies at the two remaining centres, including one in Aintree, through plans to ‘offshore’ work abroad.
Chief executive Christopher Hyman hailed Serco’s “excellent contract win performance” today, with £4.2bn of awards made in the period, compared with £2.5bn last year.
Its order book had risen to £19.4bn by the end of June, compared with £17.9bn at the end of December.
Mr Hyman said: “I am pleased with the overall performance of the business over the last six months.
“Our business in Australasia and the Middle East continues to grow strongly and, while significant challenges in the US remain, we see conditions in the UK starting to improve.
“The recent level of new contract wins across the group will help us deliver the anticipated strong financial performance in the second half of the year.”
Serco generates 54% of its group turnover in the UK but said sales declined in its domestic market by 1% to £1.26bn.
However, adjusted operating profit, before reorganisation costs and corporate expenses, rose by 7% to £86.3m.
The group said its Merseyrail and Northern Rail franchises are both supporting growth in passenger numbers “and continued strong operational metrics”.
Merseyrail has contributed towards the £20m refurbishment of Central Station which opened for Wirral services at the weekend and will re-open to Northern Line passengers on October 22.