Paving slabs specialist Marshalls is hoping for a sales boost from the improving construction sector after it announced a 15% rise in pre-tax profits for the first half.
The company, whose major recent projects include paving at Trafalgar Square and Gibraltar airport, said earnings rose to £8 million despite a 4% slide in revenues to £156 million during a period hit by freezing weather. A restructuring last year helped beef up the bottom line in spite of the fall.
The revenues decline was slower than the 7% dip in 2012 and came amid positive signs for the housing sector, where new figures show prices surged this month.
Sales to the domestic market represent a third of revenues at Huddersfield-based Marshalls, and were down 3% for the period but it is hoping to drive up new business through its approved installers and after the launch of a new driveway product.
Chief executive Graham Holden said consumer confidence had started to show modest improvement and that the group was focused on increasing output to meet growing demand.
"Economic conditions are improving and the forward indicators are more positive," he said.
Action taken to reduce costs and debts left the business "well-positioned to take full advantage of the improving market conditions", Mr Holden added.
He said industry forecasts showed that after a shrinking in UK construction products market volumes in the first half of the year, it was expected to grow 2.2% in 2014 and 4.5% in 2015.
Marshalls, which employs more than 2,000 people, revealed last month that its sales for the first half of the year had been hit by the coldest March in 100 years but that customer sentiment and orders improved in May and June, adding to hopes for an upturn in prospects.
The group has endured a difficult recent history, slumping into the red with pre-tax losses of £11.2 million in the last full-year after a rain-soaked period that saw the company axe hundreds of staff and shut one of its plants.
Its sales from the public sector and the commercial market - representing 63% of business - were down by 6% in the first half of 2013 though Mr Holden said commercial orders had been strong in the second quarter.
Work from rail and new house building was increasing, though this was from historic low levels.
Other new business included a major paving order in Manchester, and £6 million in stone cladding for a City of London office building, as well as street furniture exports for Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
International sales increased 12% meaning they now represent 5% of group sales.
Analysts at Numis said profits were better than expected, adding that it expected to see sales rise for the second half of the year.