Stubbornly Consistent - April 2018 Review & Commentary of Construction New Orders from Builders' Conference

02 May 2018

Amidst rumours of a steady decline in the UK construction industry, the statistics from the latest BCLive league table once again suggest otherwise.   The Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards reports on a month categorised by yet more of the same.

If you relied upon nothing but national newspaper and TV coverage for your reading of the current state of play in the UK construction industry, you would likely be sounding the sector’s death knell by now.   Similarly, if you relied purely upon supposed market sentiment, you’d be calling for the reading of the industry’s last rites.

Yet the cold, hard facts from the BCLive league table prove that, since January 2018, the industry has consistently topped the £4 billion mark for new contract awards.   In fact, it has adhered to a level that many consider to be the post-recession norm that it has become almost tedious in its consistency and predictability.

And that consistency was maintained yet again during the month of April 2018 when, once again, the BCLive league table recorded £4.067 billion in new contract awards for the month, split between 612 individual contracts and 354 individual contractors.   Although that was lower than the £4.8 billion recorded in the previous month, the Easter holidays would account for at least some of that apparent discrepancy, meaning that – once again – the industry did not enjoy a spectacular high.   But, just as importantly, it did not hit any spectacular lows either.

As if mirroring that industry-wide consistency, Kier Group once again claimed the number one spot on the BCLive league table – which it has done three times in four months in 2018 – with a 20 contract haul with a combined value of £397 million.   Equally predictably, it was a housing contract that helped elevate the company to the top of the heap; which also propelled all the companies in the table’s Top 5 into their lofty positions; and which contributed £1.64 billion to the monthly total.

The most significant contract in the Kier Group haul was a £200 million new build comprising 750 dwellings for the Homes & Communities Agency in Northampton.

Engie UK Ltd – formerly Keepmoat – made its first appearance in the BCLive league table Top 10, claiming the number two spot thanks in no small part to a single housing contract valued at £250 million.   That contract calls for the construction of 826 dwellings at Sighthill in Scotland for Glasgow City Council.

Redrow Homes also made a rare appearance at the top of the table this past month, starting 12 new housing projects worth a combined £204 million.   The company starts a pair of major contracts, each valued at £36 million: one for the for the construction of a number of three, four and five bedroom properties in Marlborough, Wiltshire; the second for a number of dwellings at Arnington Golf Course in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

Maintaining the housing bias of the month was Wates Ltd which enjoyed yet another stay in the BCLive league table Top 5 with an eight contract haul valued at just under £194 million.   The largest of these was for new build flats for client Quintain Estates in Wembley, Middlesex.

BAM claimed the number five position with five new contract awards that included a £90 million office build for Argent in Kings Cross, London; while Ardmore came in at number six thanks to a £100 million student accommodation new build on the site of the recently-demolished Old Perfume Factory in North Acton, London.

Greater London once again took pole position with just over 100 new contracts, although it narrowly failed to hit the £1 billion value that has become something of a regional benchmark.   Buoyed by Kier Group’s housing new build in Northampton, the West Midlands enjoyed a positive upswing this month with a 60 contract regional haul valued at over £424 million.

So despite claims from the national media, the UK construction industry has once again maintained the status quo with what is fast becoming monotonous regularity.   Such facts will, of course, do little to dispel the scaremongering headlines so beloved of the UK media.   If they were to dig a little deeper, they might actually find something of genuine concern; like, perhaps, the fact that all the while the housing sector is running in top gear to meet ambitious government targets, the infrastructure required to serve those new homes – road and rail links, sewerage – apparently remains in neutral.

Quick review of BCLive table for April 2018

354no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during April 2018

612no new construction orders are detailed on BCLive

Kier Group secure overall top spot with £397 million of new work

New order winners in £1M to £5M category was Kier Group with office throughout the UK & the £1M and under category went to Clark Contracts who are based in Scotland

Kier Group also secured the most number of new construction orders in the month with 20no

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