Rising infrastructure investment has led to dozens of new jobs at a top Midland engineering firm.
Hill & Smith Holdings has created 37 new jobs making temporary steel barriers on the back of rising spending on the country’s roads.
The new roles are the result of an £8 million investment by the Midland-based global manufacturing group which rents out the barriers to the Highways Agency for motorway roadworks.
Mark Pegler, Hill & Smith’s group finance director, said: “There are longer term plans in roads investment. On the back of that we have invested £8 million in our rental barrier fleet, which all goes into our factory in Bilston.
“That is £8 million of spend to support organic growth and a fair proportion of that barrier will go into the Midlands market – the M42, M5 and M6.
“We invested £2 million last year and will invest a further £6 million this year, which is a sizeable investment keeping the factory busy in Bilston with 37 additional people to support that.”
Hill & Smith, which is based in Shirley, employs almost 700 people in the Midlands.
As well as its Bilston factory it also has manufacturing facilities in Droitwich, Sparkbrook, Digbeth, Walsall, Telford and West Bromwich.
The news came after the company, which is involved in the manufacture and supply of infrastructure products and galvanizing services to global markets, revealed a small rise in sales.
Revenue increased by one per cent to £444.5 million, although pre-tax profits were down by 13.1 per cent to £30.6 million.
Year-end net debt of £87.2 million was materially unchanged from the previous year, despite investment in UK acquisitions and increased US galvanizing capacity.
The company recommended a final dividend of 10p, making a total dividend for the year of 16p, an increase of 6.7 per cent.
Chief executive Derek Muir said: “We saw 55 per cent of profit coming in the second half, with a strong record performance.
“Performance was poor in January and February last year but things really picked up to see the roads performance returning to normal levels.
“The momentum in the second half of 2013 has continued into this year.
“The story just now is about investing in new opportunities for the business. We have had a real in -depth strategic review of business units and have come forward with some good opportunities for organic growth.
“In the UK we have invested in the rental fleet of our temporary barrier and there are some good projects coming through with Highways Agency.
“One downside possibly was in pipe support but that improved a bit in the second half and is getting back on track.”
Mr Muir said that the company was benefiting from new coal-fired power stations in India and gas-fired ones in the UK. Looking forward he said he hoped the UK may follow the US gas trend and also had hopes nuclear power stations would bring benefits for the firm.
He added: “Hill & Smith is a really stable company which delivers sensible growth each year and good dividends and we have confidence we will continue to deliver those.”