A UNION leader has welcomed clear signs of a turnaround at one of East Lancashire’s biggest employers.

Rolls-Royce, which has about 1,000 staff at its plant in Barnoldswick, beat city expectations with half-year financial results that saw shares leap by 10 per cent.

The FTSE 100 company, which counts aircraft makers Boeing and Airbus among its customers, delivered underlying pre-tax profit of £287million in the first six months of 2017, an increase of almost 150 per cent on the same period a year earlier.

Revenue at the group rose six per cent to £6.87billion on an underlying basis, which includes exchange rate adjustments.

The profits come after Rolls-Royce reported a £4.6billion statutory pre-tax loss for 2016, one of the biggest corporate losses in British history. The heaviest deficit in the engineer’s history was due to the cost of settling corruption charges and the impact of Brexit on the value of sterling.

Mark Porter, works convener for the Unite union at Barnoldswick, said Rolls-Royce had put together ‘a good set of results’.

Mr Porter said: “It is welcome news. This is light at the end of the tunnel after what has been a difficult period.

“We have a healthy order book and it’s positive for the workforce that we have started to turn a corner back to increased profitability.”

Chief executive Warren East said the results showed “encouraging year-on-year operational progress”.

He added: “The business remains fundamentally strong and well-positioned in long-term growth markets and we think it has excellent prospects for growth.”

The results went down well with investors, with shares in Rolls-Royce surging 10 per cent on the news.

Underlying revenues were up three per cent in Rolls-Royce’s power systems division and eight per cent in its nuclear business.

But revenues at its marine division slipped 15 per cent because of weak offshore markets, while its defence aerospace unit suffered a four per cent contraction because of a reduction in original equipment and service sales.