Anyone expecting the traditional February bounce-back of construction activity will have been sadly disappointed. Yet the industry remains on an even footing, according to The Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards.
It might be the coldest month weather-wise, but February is generally the month in which the chill of the Christmas and New Year break begins to thaw to warm the hearts of construction professionals across the land. In 2015, the BCLive league table recorded 818 individual contracts with a combined value of £4.193billion. In 2016, a combined total of £3.873billion was split amongst 804 individual contracts. And so we started the month with high hopes of another bounce-back in new construction orders. It didn’t arrive.
Instead, the BCLive league table once again crept gingerly over the £4 billion mark with 317 companies winning 554 new contract awards to maintain an even keel established almost a year ago. For those that appreciate stability and predictability, the month of February will have delivered all that their hearts desire. But for those of us that have read about the UK economy being the fastest-growing in Europe, the fact that this has largely failed to be reflected in construction demand is as frustrating as it is mystifying. While other parts of industry are enjoying the “benefits” of a weaker pound, the normally reliable barometer of UK economic sentiment remains fixed in place registering only average demand and average activity.
In a month of wearisome predictability, it will come as no surprise that housing once again accounted for the lion’s share of new contract awards. It is also a shock to no-one that London and the South East were once again the leading lights in construction activity.
Yet despite an overall theme of “more of the same”, the top of the BCLive league table saw a tussle for supremacy that went down to the wire. With just hours of the month remaining, Kier Group, ISG and Morgan Sindall were all vying for the top spot with less than £40 million in contract awards separating them.