Dubai’s Drake & Scull International (DSI) has recorded an AED9.5m ($2.6m) net profit for the first quarter of 2016, thanks to cost reduction efforts.

This is a 66 per cent fall compared to first quarter 2015 net profits of AED27.9m, but only 35 per cent down on the previous quarter.

The mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contractor made an AED937m net loss in 2015 due to provisions against court cases in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Revenue declined 7 per cent year on year, to AED1.03bn in first quarter of 2016 from AED1.11bn in first quarter of 2015. DSI’s backlog of work also fell to AED11.3bn in March 2016, from AED13.8bn in March 2015.

DSI is adapting its business model to the more challenging construction market.

“We will continue to focus on the efficient use of our working capital through financial discipline with an aim to generate free cash flow,” Khaldoun Tabari, CEO and vice-chairman of DSI said in an earnings release. “Our austerity drive, which had been initiated last year in light of the new economic realities of the regional industry, will help us to sustain our efforts to streamline our costs.”

Key contract awards during the quarter include Doha Metro Depot and Yards project MEP work, worth $93m.

DSI will focus on consolidating in its key markets of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and developing high margin business such as its rail sector.