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Gloucestershire Business News

Profits at Gloucestershire helicopter operator fall 47 per cent

A defence giant which operates the helicopter wing of its business from Gloucestershire has revealed a near 50 per cent drop in profits.

Babcock International, which has a base at Gloucestershire Airport at Staverton, said it had delivered a "robust performance" in its annual report for the end ending March 31.

The FTSE 2350 firm, which moved into Gloucestershire when it took over Bond Aviation as part of a multi-million pound deal back in 2014, nevertheless said operating profits had fallen 47 per cent to £196.5 million.

According to the engineering giant exceptional charges totalling £161 million did not help its accounts and it went on to say it expected revenues and operating profits for 2020 to also be hit.

Britain's pending exit from the EU also adversely affected its trading figures with a slowdown in Government orders.

Archie Bethel, chief executive of Babcock, said: "We have delivered a robust performance this year, operating profit is in line with our expectations, we have sustained our strong margins and we have improved our cash generation.

"As we begin the new financial year we do not expect the wider market environment to be any less challenging than we have experienced this past year.

"However, Babcock's strength continues to be our focus, our position as a trusted partner in critical, complex areas of national importance, in both the UK and internationally, and our knowledge and expertise.

"The guidance we have issued today for the 2019/20 financial year reflects the market environment we face and the strengths we deploy in these markets."

Operational highlights for the business, whose helicopter division serves the search and rescue, medical and oil and gas markets, include an order book pipeline "stable" at £31 billion, significant UK contract wins in the year, in particular with the Navy and new 10 year rail contracts.

It also described itself as "building strong positions in key long term projects" including nuclear power station Hinkley Point C - which is of course under the charge of EDF, which has its UK headquarters in Gloucester.

Babcock is understood to employ 35,000 staff across its operations.

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