This week, the influential CIPS UK construction PMI showed the sector had its weakest growth for almost a year in July.
Construction firms who responded to the survey commented on client delays in decision-making and a greater reluctance to commit to new projects.
The update led to the pound falling and reflected a growing sense of unease among companies I’ve been speaking to recently.
That’s the bad news. Coupled with an ongoing spat over northern versus London infrastructure, the construction sector must be causing sleepless nights within Theresa May’s cabinet.
I spoke to one chairman of a top-100 firm about the implications of Grenfell Tower and Carillion’s recent losses yesterday.
I made the point that both incidents have knocked the sector’s reputation and have been on the one hand, tragic and heartbreaking, on the other, a more worrying indictment of what happens when big companies get things wrong in this industry.
While this isn’t news to anyone, there is a real need for the sector to promote best practice (look at the amazing projects being built).
But one shift that is already happening, according to this chairman, is that public sector clients are recognising the need to shift from a ‘lowest-price wins’ mindset.
Some clients will never drop this attitude. And contractors will be squeezed and their supply chains will also suffer.
But following North Midland Construction’s CEO this week telling us he wants to hit 5 per cent margins, we’re taking a closer look at how the sector is really faring in August as part of our digital summer.
First up, we’ll publish our Specialists Index for 2017 next week (read the 2016 version here). How are the biggest steel, demolition, building envelope, concrete, M&E, scaffolding and ground engineering firms faring? We’ll tell you, along with interviews with people on the ground in all those sectors.
Then, later in August, we’ll publish our CN100, the bible for the financial state of play in construction. Who are the biggest risers and fallers? Who’s in rude health? Who’s employing more staff, paying their directors the most? That’s all to come.
But next week belongs to the Specialists. Tell us how your business is performing. And subscribe to CN, for the content you need to know in the construction industry.
The best Specialists
Our Specialists Index isn’t a file outlining the best companies in the industry. It plots them based on revenue and profit. We’re not showing you the only companies doing great things. We’re showing you who is growing fastest and who has the financial muscle to compete at the very top.
If you’re one of the best – but not necessarily the biggest – in the business, enter our CN Specialists Awards 2018 to win work, meet clients and gain recognition.