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CN briefing: CN100, profit margins, cake, Imtech UK and Build UK

How many contractors does it take to turn over £60.5 billion?

This year, the answer to that question is exactly 100.

The CN100 for 2015, which will be fully unveiled tomorrow, reveals that the total turnover of the UK’s top 100 contractors is back above the £60bn mark for the first time in five years.

Compared to last year, the total turnover for the CN100 is up by over 10 per cent.

Taken at first glance, one might observe to colleagues gathered round the water cooler that the downturn is ‘but a memory’, with financial directors sporting grins from ear to ear.

But dig a little deeper – and CN has provided you with enough data to keep you digging for weeks – and it becomes clear that the spectre of recession still haunts the UK’s biggest firms.

Operating profit margins across the industry’s largest 100 contractors are now down to an average of 1.9 per cent.

Considering that last year’s average margin of 2.4 per cent was hailed as a sign that the recovery had begun to bed in, this year’s dip is a worrying signal.

Problem contracts, spiralling costs and skills shortages are just a handful of the problems that contractors have had to contend with over the past year, despite growing workloads.

What’s more, the demise of CN100 regulars including Longcross and GB Building Solutions – both mid-ranking members of last year’s table – should serve as a sobering reminder that the industry is by no means out of the woods yet.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

Increasing confidence across the seven specialist sectors – building envelope, concrete, demolition, ground engineering, M&E, scaffolding, and steel – has led to turnover increases almost across the board, and our forward-looking analysis points to a bright future for SMEs.

Cost consultants and project managers are also in a buoyant mood, with most feeling that the good times are not far away.

Look out for the main table on CNplus tomorrow, with features analysing facilities management, housebuilders, and the commercial sector.

We will publish new tables and features every day over the course of the next week.

There’s even an interactive CN100 infographic for you to play around with. And seeing as it will help you analyse your competitors, you can tell your boss it counts as work when you get caught with it on your monitor!

Got five minutes?

Around 2,500 jobs have been saved at Imtech UK following a private equity firm’s investment. But CN today revealed the deal does not include its water, waste and energy business, which is believed to be under threat of administration.

Pick from seven CN100 specialist sectors and see the top-10 firms by turnover, plus analysis on future prospects.

Got 10 minutes?

New contractor membership group Build UK launched today with new board members, an action plan and cupcakes. Its CEO Suzannah Nichol sat down exclusively with deputy editor Tom Fitzpatrick to set out her vision.


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