Engineering firm Alstom has revealed a five per cent fall in sales – but has seen orders jump by 14 per cent.
The French-owned company, which employs thousands of people in the West Midlands, saw sales for the year to March 31 fall to £16 billion, compared with £16.8 billion the year before.
However, there were more positive signs for the future after the firm revealed orders received had increased by 14 per cent, from £15.3 billion to £17.4 billion.
The company has been boosted by a £200 million contract to supply power transmission technology to Swedish state-owned utility company Svenska Kraftnät from its Grid Centre of Excellence in Stafford.
Patrick Kron, Alstom’s chairman and chief executive, said he was expecting strong growth in the next three years.
He said: “Sales gradually recovered throughout the year. Thanks to an improvement in the second semester, the operating margin reached 7.1 per cent for the full year, in line with the guidance given in 2010.
“Free cash flow turned substantially positive in the second half.
“Looking ahead, given our positioning in our four businesses, we are expecting to maintain a sound level of orders. On this basis, sales should increase by more than five per cent per year over the next three years while operating margin should gradually improve to around eight per cent in March 2015.”
The accounts show that income from operations dropped 10 per cent from £1.26 billion to £1.13 billion.
Its operating margin also fell, from 7.5 per cent in the 2011 financial year to 7.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, the work carried out on High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) systems – including those being shipped to Sweden – helped Alstom’s Stafford operation, which employs about 2,000 people, to pick up internal awards.
Alstom Grid UK was awarded three prizes at a ceremony which celebrated pioneering technologies and research developments.
Kevin Marriott, regional commercial vice president for North West Europe at Alstom Grid, said: “We are very proud that the skills and expertise of our staff have been celebrated in this way.
“The pioneering research, design and construction of HVDC technology here in Stafford are part of Alstom’s wider development as a world leader in this highly advanced technology and these awards demonstrate the capabilities and dedication of our team.”