Demolition contractor Coleman & Company ran up a £1.7m loss last year after being hit by delayed projects and further costs related to the Didcot disaster in 2016.
In 56 years of trading, it is only the second time the specialist has fallen into the red, the other time as a result of 2008/9 financial crisis.
Exceptional costs of 349,000 were also booked relating to the Didcot power station contract.
Chief executive Mark Coleman said: “Actions to stem losses and reduce overheads had been delayed in the optimistic belief that the pipeline contract opportunities would materialise. This did not happen in the desired timescale.”
Revenue in the year to April 2018, slumped to £15m from £27m previously. This was mainly down to two contracts worth over £11m originally due to start in 2017 being delayed until 2019.
The fall in turnover and hence gross profit was further compounded by a squeeze in margins in an attempt to maintain market share.
Following the appointment new group managing director James Howard at the start of last year cost-cutting measures and restructuring was carried out.
He said: “The trading losses have been stemmed and the business is on track to return to profitability for the year April 2018/2019) – a very credible performance if achieved given the perfect storm faced over the preceding 12 months.”
Coleman said that tender conversion rates were increasing from an historic average of 8% to 20% as a consequence of concentrating on value added projects where the business could differentiate itself from competitors.