After starting out as an apprentice bricklayer in Scotland, Robert McAlpine founded this civil-engineering and building company in 1869. Since then it has spread its operations across Britain and been involved in landmark projects, including the main stadium for the London Olympics. This year it won the contract to help build the new £650m American embassy in Battersea, south London. The Hertfordshire-based business is still owned and managed by the McAlpine family and, by being selective about the work it takes on, has remained profitable in the face of public spending cuts. Turnover rose to £789m in 2011.
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