Close, But No Cigar

The UK construction industry posted new contract awards of £4 billion for 11 consecutive months. To make it a full year was always going to be a big ask. But the sector came extraordinarily close to rounding-out a memorable and record-breaking year in spectacular style, according to Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards.

Throughout 2018, the UK construction industry shook off creeping Brexit concerns to post 11 consecutive months of new contract awards valued at more than £4 billion per month. During the same period, the sector seemingly ignored the inability of UK politicians to secure a deal with their European counterparts and continued to notch up month after record month. For 11 consecutive months, the industry laughed in the face of national economic jitters and thumbed its nose at global economic concerns to amass more than £60 billion in new contract awards, outstripping the previous year by around 19 percent even though 2017 was the year the initial HS2 contracts dropped.

Ultimately, however, the industry’s momentum was halted by nothing more than the annual festivities, a month shortened by the Christmas and New Year break, and – most telling – by the sector’s need for a well-deserved break. Yet while the £3.282 billion total for December 2018 fell short of the £4 billion mark, it still outstripped December 2017 by over a third and rounded off a record year on the BCLive league table.

Top of the heap in December 2018 was Lendlease with a single new contract award valued at £350 million that could prove to be the beginning of a period of intense activity for the Midlands. That contract – for Birmingham City Council – is for the construction of the Commonwealth Games Village ahead of the 2022 Games and is to be built on the site of the former Birmingham City University campus at Perry Barr.

Laing O’Rourke claimed second place, also with a single contract win – a £200 million new build comprising 575 dwellings for Network Homes at Merrick Road in Southall, Middlesex.

In the yearly run-down of the BCLive league table, Kier Group claimed top spot with a combined 177 contract awards valued at just under £3 billion.   Wates Ltd took second place with a 71 contract haul valued at £2.82 billion, while Morgan Sindall came in third with 178 new contract awards work just over £1.5 billion. Morgan Sindall also claimed third position on the monthly league table for December, bagging 21 new contracts worth a total of £162.9 million. The largest of these was won by the company’s Overbury refurbishment division; a £72 million office refurbishment and repair for Shell UK at 20 York Road in south east London.

In a year dominated by new housing projects Countryside Properties, Miller Homes part of Galliford Try Group & Galliard Homes occupied fourth, fifth & seventh positions with Galliard Homes starting on site with the construction of 602 new homes on the former Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium. This is the first stage in a larger project that will see the construction of a new stadium for the AFC Wimbledon football team.

Kier Group claimed the number sixth spot with seven new contract awards worth a combined £126.7 million. This includes a £50 million extension to the Pirbright Institute research facility in Woking, Surrey that will include a high containment large animal facility.

Regionally, London remained top dog with 82 new contract awards valued at a combined £849 million that fell slightly short of what has become a £1 billion monthly norm. In second place was the West Midlands with 28 projects worth £578 million with the East Midlands adding another £174 million to make it a very good month for the Midlands as a whole.

The housing sector delivered 155 new contracts during the month worth a combined total of £1.528 billion while the entertainment and leisure sector contributed 26 contracts worth a total of £582 million. Education came in third with £392 million for the month; but during 2018, this sector was down 6 percent on the previous year.

Whether December’s monthly total was purely a festive glitch or the first indications of a wider, pre-Brexit malaise remains to be seen. The BCLive league table for January 2019 will make for interesting reading.

Quick review of BCLive table for December 2018

• 276no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during December 2018

• 413no new construction orders are detailed on BCLive

• Lendlease secure overall top spot with £350 million of new work

• New order winners in £1M to £5M category & the £1M and under category went to Morgan Sindall Group

• Morgan Sindall Group share the most number of new construction orders in the month with 21no.

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