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Thursday, November 8, 2018
The fact that the BCLive league table topped the £6.0 Billion mark for the second month in succession is surely cause for celebration. But the facts underlying those figures are complex, confusing and – in many instances – counter-intuitive. Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards tries to explain.
For the tenth month in succession, the BCLive league table of new construction contract awards topped the £4.0 billion monthly total. In fact, for the second consecutive month, it topped the £6.0 billion mark to pour scorn on the notion of a pre-Brexit market meltdown and an industry on the brink of a crisis. Lurking just below those figures, however, is a picture that is as confused as it is buoyant.
Kier Group, which has topped the BCLive league table most often during 2018, secured the largest number of contracts – 15 – during the month and yet finished in sixth place with a £161.4 million total. Despite topping the £6.0 Billion mark, there were no HS2 or Crossrail-style marquee projects secured during the month. Yet again, London was the single biggest region, contributing just over £1.0 Billion to that monthly total. And yet none of the biggest projects secured this month were in the nation’s capital. And with 288 new contract awards worth a combined £2.48 Billion, housing once again contributed around 39 percent of the monthly total, even though none of the month’s biggest projects involved housing. However, housebuilders such as Bellway Homes, Persimmon, Barratt, Fairview, Redrow and St William Homes all made it into the BCLive Top 50 for October 2018.
Against such a perplexing backdrop, the upper echelons of the BCLive league table was equally confused.
Balfour Beatty scaled to the top of the chart with a six contract haul worth a total of £516.1 million. The largest of these is a £300 million new-build hospital at Smethwick in the West Midlands that will comprise 669 beds and 15 operating theatre suites. The client is Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
In second place on the BCLive league table was Siemens which is overseeing the £350 million construction of a new power station for Scottish & Southern Energy at Keadby, Scunthorpe. A combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant, Keadby 2 will sit alongside an existing power station and is expected to deliver some 840 MW of power.
Amey took third place thanks to a single contract; a £325 million refurbishment and repair contract with Highways England that covers major roads in Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Merseyside and South Lancashire over the next 15 years.
Another newcomer to the BCLive Top 10 – Breyer Group – stormed into fourth place with 12 new contract awards worth a combined £297.4 million. The largest of these is a four-year, £150 million refurbishment and repair contract for client Fusion 21 Ltd in the North West.
Bouygues took fifth spot with a single £250 million contract to extend the University of Cambridge’s West Campus’ physics laboratory. The education sector also helped propel Kier Group in sixth place; a £45 million contract for the construction of two new schools in Newcastle upon Tyne the largest in the company’s £161.4 million monthly haul.
At any time, a £6.0 billion monthly total is notable. But a £6.0 billion monthly total set against the backdrop of ongoing Brexit concerns is truly extraordinary. The fact that the UK construction industry is so dependent upon housing that – despite all its buoyancy – is still failing to meet government new build targets is a cause for some concern as the sector is fast becoming the basket into which the industry has placed most of its eggs.
But it is hard to find many negatives in a month that has eschewed wider economic fears to build upon the stable base the UK construction industry has enjoyed since the beginning of the year.
Quick review of BCLive table for October 2018
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