Off to a Flying Start


The UK construction industry has hit the ground running at the beginning of the New Year.   And while it failed to replicate the anomalous highs of December 2020, the latest set of monthly figures researched by Builders’ Conference & highlighted on BCLive table speak to a sector enjoying a period of prolonged positivity.   Builders’ Conference CEO Neil Edwards looks over some pleasing figures.

Huge tranches of HS2-related construction contracts – sadly – do not come along every month.   So anyone expecting a repeat of the £12 billion plus in new contract awards recorded in December 2020 was always going to be disappointed.   But with £6.2 billion in new contract awards in the first month of the New Year, the sector has blasted past the established £4.0 billion monthly benchmark to get 2021 off to a flying and reassuringly positive start.

The largest single contract researched by Builders’ Conference for the month was a £940 million award that propelled Hill Partnership to the number one position on the BCLive league table.   Let by client Poplar HARCA, the contract is for the creation of as many as 2,500 dwellings as part of the regeneration of the Teviot Estate in Poplar, East London.

In second place for the month was Morgan Sindall, which collected an impressive 23 new contract awards worth a combined £507 million.   The largest of these is a £312 million refurbishment and repair contract that is part of Highways England’s Collaborative Delivery Framework.   The project will see the M40 and M42 motorways between M42 Junctions three and four and M40 Junction 16 upgraded to smart motorway status.

That twenty three contract haul temporarily wrested the crown for the most awards in the month from long-term holder, Kier Group.   However, Kier Group still claimed the number three position with 18 new awards valued at a combined £311 million.   A key contributor to that total is a £200 million contract with Transport for London that will see significant improvements on some of the capital’s most infamous traffic black-spots including the Blackwall Tunnel, Rotherhithe Tunnel, and the A40 at Hangar Lane.  Extending over a period of eight years, the contract will include safety inspections, cleaning and the installation of intelligent transport systems.

With housing continuing to dominate the UK construction industry, Redrow Homes once again enjoyed a lofty position on the BCLive league table.   The housing specialist started eight new contract awards during the month worth a combined £274 million, the largest of which is a £60 million contract for the creation of new three, four and five bedroom dwellings at Brizen View in Cheltenham.

In a month in which road projects also enjoyed a welcome resurgence, Costain took the number five position on the BCLive league table with a single £250 million project for Highways England.   That project is an improvement and widening scheme for a 6.5 kilometre stretch of the A1 from Birtley to Coal House that will provide dual three lanes and the replacement of the Allerdene Bridge.   This project will be of key interest to equipment manufacturer Komatsu UK that builds its excavators at a factory in Birtley.

Although that project will provide a welcome shot in the arm for the North East region, it was London and the Midlands that had most to celebrate in January 2021.   With more than 100 new contract awards, London provided £1.87 billion in new contract awards while the combined East and West Midlands served up another £996 million.   The North West region contributed a further £726 million while Scotland continues to play catch-up with a lowly £152 million.

As has become the norm, housing dominated in the sector countdown, with 188 new contract awards valued at a combined £2.89 billion.   But a marked uptick on roads (£962 million) and education (£823 million) point to a loosening of the government purse strings that will only add to the positivity of another impressive month.

There is, of course, a very real possibility that the industry picture could change dramatically when the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end in March.   But for now, there is much to celebrate as the UK construction sector continues to march ahead.

Quick review of BCLive table for January 2021

  • 310 no companies were detailed as winning new contracts during January 2021
  • 551 no new construction orders were researched by Builders’ Conference all detailed on the UK’s only Live league table of construction contract awards BCLive
  • Hill Partnerships secured overall top spot with a single contract worth £940 million
  • Morgan Sindall Group secured most number of new construction orders in the month with 23no totaling £507.8 million

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BDC 314 : Mar 2024