Builder Upbeat as Order Book Swells

The boss of Angus company Pert Bruce has hailed his firm’s rise in commercial contracts after an uncertain period for the construction sector.

Craig Bruce, the managing director of the Montrose firm, is upbeat about its prospects after several contract wins this year.

The company, which can trace its roots to 1871, has recently contended with Covid, spiralling material costs and delays caused by Scottish winters.

Mr Bruce was initially concerned about his order book this year, but said commercial enquiries have since “shot through the roof”.

The company, which has 62 staff, reported a pre-tax profit of £405,000 for the year ending October 31, 2023.

In the financial year its turnover rose from £10.6 million in 2022 to just shy of £12 million last year.

Pert Bruce recently completed the refurbishment of the Royal Mercantile Golf Club.

Craig said: “It’s hard to compare each year against the last, I’m not even sure what normal is for us anymore.

“Turnover was slightly higher than the year before, but because of rising costs it was needed.

“I run a tight ship and don’t set unachievable goals.  I’m trying to take it up to £20 million or £30 million turnover.

“We have our targets with turnover usually around the £11 million mark, and over the year we hit them.”

Pert Bruce stockpiled £500,000 on construction materials over concerns spiralling prices would wipe out its profits three years ago.

Craig has also welcomed more stable prices and is hoping things stay this way.

He added: “It’s not quite a return to what they used to be, but material prices have definitely settled back down.

“Build cost inflation has eased, which is great for us.  Everyone wants a fixed price for a job, so I want to see solid prices for our materials.”

Craig said despite initial concerns over the amount of work on offer for the company this year, her has since been pleasantly surprised.

With “one of the worst weathered winters” he’s seen in this industry, the year started slow for the firm.

Craig said: “At the beginning of the financial year I did worry it could be slightly slow or lacking in jobs.

“Borrowing is going up and people are struggling to get a mortgage.

“But the tender work looks quite good.  I’ve seen commercial contract enquiries shoot through the roof in the past couple of months.

“Our turnover this year is on track.  We had a slower first quarter but I fully expect us to make up for that.”

Craig’s hopes and aspirations are simple – to be able to pay the bills, keep everyone employed and make a profit.

He said: “I just want to continue the business.  My family have done this since 1871, so I want to keep the door open and the lights on.”

As Craig isn’t looking to take over the world, his team only take on projects they can add value to as a company.

Describing Pert Bruce as “middle line”, he believes it’s important to know the competition.

He added: “Our competition could be five or six guys in a van, all the way up to Robertsons.

“We’re diverse because we have to be, a lot of companies our size in this business are no longer around.”

This article appeared in The Courier on 22 May 2024.

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