No cause for alarm says Builders’ Conference

There was slight dip in the level of construction contract awards in the month of April 2021 verified research by Scaffolding Association partners, Builders’ Conference, showed. However, in this article CEO Neil Edwards explains why he remains confident and believes the sector still has much to look forward to in the year ahead.

It is amazing just how quickly we can all shift our expectations

When the UK construction industry enjoyed an unprecedented period of stability in which new contract award activity didn’t fall below the £4 billion per month mark for more than a year, we were filled with optimism and hope.

But having topped £12 billion in December, £6 billion in January, £8 billion in February and £9 billion in March, it is tempting to greet an April figure of “just” £5.7 billion with a sense of unease and foreboding.

But such concern is misplaced.

The wider industry remains upbeat and is on target to hit an unprecedented annual figure of more than £90 billion. And while the figures for April 2021 do represent a slight dip, all indications point to a continuation of the high levels of contract awards to which we have all grown accustomed.

The biggest winner this past month is the Future Valleys Construction joint venture that won a £590 million project to provide a welcome boost to both the Welsh region and the wider infrastructure sector. 

Combining Roadbridge, Meridiam, Alun Griffiths and Atkins, the Future Valleys Construction JV has been appointed to construction new roads and bridges at the A465 Heads of the Valleys sections five and six at Merthyr Tydfil. Construction is set for an almost immediate start and completion is expected by 2025.

In second place on the BCLive league table for the month of April 2021 is BAM, which picked up nine new contract awards with a combined value of over £246 million. The most significant of these is a £100 million new build for client Argent in London’s Kings Cross. Split across 11 storeys, the new build will include office, residential and retail space, together with leisure facilities.

Claiming the third position on the table is Countryside Properties with a £243 million haul split across two projects. The largest of these is a £161 million new build of 308 dwellings at Peel Place in Kilburn, North West London. Some 41 percent of the new homes will be affordable, and will be complemented by an affordable gym and affordable workspaces as part of what is described as a “district healing” programme.

Engie collected seven new contract awards worth a combined £225 million. The largest of these is a £200 million project to convert the site of the former Rugeley Power Station into a housing development comprising as many as 2,300 new homes.

In a month in which 17 contractors each picked up more than £100 million in new contract awards, Tide Construction took the fifth position on the table with a single landmark project. That project requires the construction of one 49 and one 34-storey tower blocks on land adjacent to Croydon College in South London. Those blocks will comprise 817 “co-living” units and 120 residential units, together with communal and amenity spaces, car parking and extensive landscaping.

Kier Group retained its “highest number of contracts secured” crown, bagging 20 new projects worth a combined £140 million to claim 11th spot on the table.

Regionally, London was top dog yet again with 116 new contract awards valued at a combined £1.48 billion. However, boosted by the Heads of the Valleys road project, Wales leapt into second place with a total of £622 million (South and Mid Wales £612 million; North Wales £10.35 million). The West Midlands enjoyed yet another impressive month, delivering £522 million in new contract awards spread across 42 individual projects. Its East Midlands neighbour picked up 24 new projects worth a combined £223 million.

Even though the roads and bridges sector enjoyed an uptick this past month, housing was yet again the busiest and most valuable industry category. House builders picked up 210 new contract awards in the month worth a combined £2.27 billion or more than a third of the industry’s monthly total. Given that housing is also a key constituent of most mixed-use developments, housing probably accounted for more than half of the monthly total.

So yes, the figures were slightly down in April 2021. Yes, the industry is still far too reliant upon the house- building sector. And no, there were not any billion pound marquee projects.

But make no mistake.  

April 2021 was another great month for the UK construction sector. And all indicators point to the fact that there is still plenty more to come.

Quick review of BCLive table for April 2021

  • 317 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during April 2021
  • 548 no new construction orders were researched by Builders’ Conference all detailed on the UK’s only Live league table of construction contract awards BCLive
  • A JV named Future Valleys Construction combining FCC, Roadbridge, Meridiam, Alun Griffiths & Atkins secured overall top spot with a single contract worth £590 billion
  • Kier Group regained its position as the company with the most number of new construction orders in the month with 20no totalling £139.8 million

The importance of real-time verified independent, construction information, sales leads and bespoke construction sector analysis has never been more important and the Builders’ Conference delivers this LIVE service, via one of the most digitally advanced platforms on the UK market.

Under their partnership agreement, every audited & assessed member company of the Scaffolding Association is granted access to Builders’ Conference premium information as part of their subscription fee.

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