Puncturing Preconceptions Sept-21 Commentary of Contracts by Builders Conference

Fresh out of national lockdown, mired in a materials shortage, and blighted by a skills shortage that just refuses to die, the UK construction sector has now had to contend with massive fuel availability issues.   Did it impact positivity?   Not even slightly.  Builders' Conference CEO Neil Edwards looks over a month in which the industry shrugged off yet another challenge beyond its control.

If you can keep your head while all about you are losing yours, chances are, you work in construction.  During the past two years, the sector has laughed off the economic threat of Brexit, thumbed its nose at a global pandemic, and maintained unprecedented workloads despite a worsening shortage of both materials and workers.   So when the ongoing lack of HGV tanker drivers brought petrol forecourts and the nation’s roads grinding to a halt, the industry yet again rolled up its sleeves and delivered yet another astonishing month of new contract awards.

The industry may have paused for breath in August when the BCLive league table recorded £4.71 billion in new contract awards, but it was back to business as usual in September as the table went past the five, six and seven billion pound marks to close the month with an impressive £7.42 billion tally.

Given that it generally takes around 8 to 10 weeks to move from contract award to boots on the ground, the start of 2022 looks set fair.   And, even though that £7.42 billion monthly total contains a £2.2 billion single contract anomaly, it would have been an above average month even without it.

That anomalous new contract award was won by the Align joint venture comprising Bouygues, VolkerFitzpatrick and Sir Robert McAlpine.   And it will surprise absolutely no-one to learn that the contract is part of the mammoth HS2 project.  

The Align team have won the contract to build the Colne Valley Viaduct that will carry the high-speed rail line across a series of lakes and waterways on the North West outskirts of London.

Second place on the BCLive league table for September 2021 went to BAM, which picked up four new contract awards worth a combined total of £481 million.   The largest of these is a £300 million road new build designed to ease congestion on the A27 at Crossbush Junction near Arundel in Sussex.

Morgan Sindall took third place on the table, securing 11 new contract awards worth a combined total of £374 million.   The most significant of these is a £290 million new build project won by the group’s Lovell Partnership division that will see the construction of 766 new dwellings at a site at the former Morris Walk Estate in London’s Woolwich.

Bouygues, already a big winner as part of the Align joint venture, also scored a solo victory, taking fourth place on the BCLive league table with a pair of projects valued at a combined £347 million.   The largest of these is the £250 million new build at Ebury Bridge Estate in Westminster that will see the creation of a large number of new homes.

In a month that saw 16 companies pick up more than £100 million in new work, McLaren Construction took fifth position on the BCLive league table, courtesy of a pair of new contract awards worth a combined £313 million.   The largest and most notable of these is the £200 million new build of a 37,000 m2 factory for the Aston Martin Cognizant Formula 1 team.

Kier Group predictably took the title for the most projects secured with a 14 contract haul totalling £104.6 million that put them in 14th position on the table.

Despite the massive HS2 contract award that boosted the railways sector, housing was the biggest sector once again, contributing 165 new contracts worth a combined £2.475 billion.   Offices (£560 million), roads (£499 million) and entertainment and leisure (£410 million) also enjoyed positive months.

That HS2 contract was not enough to displace housing on the sector countdown, but it did knock London off its regional perch with Hertfordshire topping the tree with eight new contract awards worth a combined £2.21 billion, just ahead of the capital’s £2.14 billion.

Traditionally, October signals the beginning of a slow and inexorable slide into the quieter winter months.   But having blasted past Brexit, COVID-19 and shortages of workers, materials and fuel, it would surely come as no surprise if the UK construction treated the annual festivities with equal disdain.

Quick review of BCLive table for September 2021

284 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during September 2021

441 no new construction orders were researched by Builders’ Conference all detailed on the UK’s only Live league table of construction contract awards BCLive

Align JV secured overall top spot with a single contract worth £2.2 billion

Kier Group was the company with the most number of new construction orders in the month with 14no totaling £104.6 million

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Full and interactive BCLive Table for Sepptember can be found HERE

Watch the full interview of our CEO Neil Edwards below

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