Buildings services group Northern Bear posted a 9% rise in annual profit and declared a special dividend, after its acquisition of H Peel & Sons boosted sales. Pre-tax profit for the year through March rose to £2.6m, as revenue rose 18% to £53.6m. Gross profit from continuing operations increased to £10.5m, up from £9.3m, while gross margin contracted to 19.6%, down from 20.4%. The reduction in gross margin was the result of a change in sales mix, with the group's specialist building services division typically operating at lower margins than roofing and materials handling, the company said. Northern Bear declared a final dividend of 3.0p per share, up 20% on-year. It also declared a special dividend of 1.0p per share, though this was down from 1.5p per share on-year. 'The group's continuing operations traded strongly and ahead of management expectations over the course of the financial year, despite the severe winter weather,' the company said. At 8:18am: (LON:NTBR) Northern Bear PLC share price was -2.5p at 79.5p
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