Highbridge, Somerset-based RT Keedwell Holdings boosted its pre-tax profit almost 25-fold in the year to 31 October 2012, reporting pre-tax profit of £198,000 compared to just £8,000 the previous year as it recovered from a serious downturn in the construction sector.

Turnover at the group, which includes RT Keedwell, K&J Logistics, Ken Jones Transport and Jays Logistics as well as K&W Brick Haulage, remained almost unchanged at £53.3m.

Commenting on the results, group commercial director Jon White said the recovery was all down to the second half of the year.

“There was growth in the general haulage element of the business, but a fall in turnover during the year by the construction division which focuses on bricks, blocks and steel distribution. The first half of the year was one of the worst in the group’s history, but the business refocused and showed a strong recovery during the second half,” White told MT.

“There was a strong focus on internal cost control and closer involvement with customers to reduce overall supply chain costs for mutual benefit,” he continued. “Stability of fuel prices throughout the later part of the financial year also had a positive impact, alongside a move towards a fleet replacement policy focusing on whole life cost including fuel.”

The group shed over 12% of its workforce during the year, down from an average of 521 to 457. The majority of cuts - 64 jobs - were in drivers and warehouse staff. “The construction division suffered significant drops in volume and the business had to realign the resource levels to meet the drop in volumes,” said White. “This is now showing strong recovery.”

That recovery is continuing in the current year, he added. “The second half of the financial year 2011-12 showed very strong performance that has continued through the first half of the current year,” he said. “The business is financially strong… we expect turnover to show a continued increase this year.”