Thursday, December 5, 2019

Latest update from Builders' Conference

Ending on a High

In the final full month of the calendar year, the UK construction industry has once again maintained its momentum to close out 2019 on a positive note to provide some optimism for the New Year ahead.   Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards looks at the facts.

Shortened by public holidays and impacted by festive parties and extended breaks, December is always a month in which the research carried out by Builders’ Conference is shortened and thereby influences the figures on the BCLive league table.   Those figures cannot be compared to other months in the year, nor can they be relied upon to maintain or dispel emerging trends.

November, however, is a proper working month in the UK construction sector.  And, as such, the  verified researched carried out by Builders’ Conference details our BCLive league table topped the £5.0 billion mark for new contract awards showing an industry concluding the year on something of a high; and potentially starting the New Year with a degree of cautious optimism.

Those figures were queered somewhat by the presence of a single £1.0 billion project awarded to a multi-layered joint venture company called Riverlinx for the construction of the 1.4 kilometre twin-bore Silvertown Tunnel.   Client Transport for London originally planned to let this contract back in May but it was placed under “best value” investigation.   That investigation is now complete and the original joint venture company – which includes the likes of BAM Nuttall and Ferrovial - has been given the green light.

In a month in which the top 13 companies on the BCLive league table each recorded contract awards valued at more than £100 million, second position went to Galliard Homes which picked up two new contracts worth a combined total of £265 million.   The largest of these is a £140 million contract for the construction of 92 private apartments and almost 10,000 square feet of retail space above the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail Station.

Sir Robert McAlpine claimed third spot, courtesy of a single £250 million new build at Gateshead Quays in the North East of England.   That project is a mixed use development that include an indoor arena and exhibition centre.   The client is Ask Property Developments.

In fourth position is Balfour Beatty which collected six new contracts worth a combined £229 million.   The largest of these is a £150 million refurbishment and repair of the A2 at the Bean and Ebbsfleet junction near Dartford in Kent.

BAM on its own, picked up eight new contract awards during the month worth a combined £209 million this includes a £55 million new build of two office buildings with associated ground floor leisure and retail units at Globe Point Leeds

Also noteworthy are a £180 million extension to Pier 6 at Gatwick Airport which was won by Bechtel.   Meanwhile, Kier & Morgan Sindall Group shared the highest number of new contract awards during the month (15) with a combined totals of £174.4 million & £10.9.2 respectively.   Amongst these awards are a £60 million new build for 208 apartments within the Commonwealth Games Village at Perry Bar which Kier picked up and a £27 million new school in Neath South Wales which Morgan Sindall Construction were awarded.

There is no question that the Riverlinx project gave the BCLive league table a welcome boost.   But even without it, the table would have topped the £4.0 billion mark that has become the accepted norm over the past two years.   However, even though London was – as always – far and away the leader in new contract award activity (£1.7 billion), the Silverlink Tunnel added a sheen to an otherwise relatively lacklustre month.   Indeed, were it not for that marquee project, the combined East and West Midlands (£630 million) would have run the capital a very close second.

That single project also helped the infrastructure sector notch up a notable monthly total (£1.28 billion), which only narrowly missed matching the perennial sector leader – housing – which accounted for £1.36 billion.

Given the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, the performance of the UK construction sector in the month of November 2019 is nothing short of miraculous and it will allow most of the industry to ease into the festivities with a degree of optimism.   The real test, however, is whether the industry can maintain that positivity when the dust has settled on the General Election and with the (latest) Brexit deadline looming early in the New Year.

Quick review of BCLive table for November 2019

  • 256 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during November 2019
  • 425no new construction orders are detailed on BCLive
  • Riverlinx Ltd consortium secure overall top spot with £1.0 billion order
  • New order winners in £1M to £5M category went to Morgan Sindall Group and the £1M and under category went to fit out specialists Parkeray Ltd based in London EC4R.
  • Morgan Sindall Group & Kier Group shared the most number of new construction orders in the month with 15no.

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