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Kier takes first place in December but awards down 50% across top firms

Worrying figures have revealed that the value of construction work awarded in December 2012 was half that recorded in the same month of 2011.

The latest top 50 contractor tables show that £1bn of work was handed out to contractors across 128 contracts. This compares to £2bn in December 2011 and £2.7bn two years ago.

A sluggish December 2012 was also more than 40 per cent down on November 2012, which had seen £1.7bn-worth of work awarded across 202 contracts.

Top 50 contractors Dec 11-Dec 12

More than half the contractors in December’s league did not pass the £20m mark, according to construction business intelligence unit Glenigan.

It was housing activity, rather than traditional contracting, which helped drive the leading contractor to the top spot.

Kier claimed first place for December with £115.1m of work across 12 deals. The contractor was also the only firm to pass the £100m mark for the month.

Chief among the deals behind its success was Woking Borough Council’s £80m 370-home contract awarded to the Evolution consortium.

Kier and Thames Valley Housing will build affordable homes worth £40.5m under a private finance initiative as part of the contract. In total it includes 224 affordable homes and 149 homes for private sale.

Kier also beat eight others contractors to a £25m five-year deal to provide planned maintenance housing services to City of Lincoln Council. The contractincludes a possible 10-year extension, taking the value to £50m.

The public sector and local government continue to be the main providers of work, albeit at a lower level reflecting the tightening of budgets. Housing led the clients table in December.

Woking Borough Council was top of the pile, having selected a Kier consortium to deliver an £80m 370-home contract. Coastal protection works in Blackpool also took have local council second spot. The Department of Health, which has consistently appeared in the clients table throughout 2012, dished out 15 deals worth £45.5m.

Balfour Beatty was in second spot with £75.8m of work across six contracts, while Morgan Sindall secured eight deals worth a total of £72.9m.

Balfour Beatty subsidiary Birse won £55m of work for Blackpool Borough Council, for the design and construction of Anchorsholme & Rossall Coast Protection Works in North-west England.

Also among Balfour Beatty’s wins that month was a £13.2m Transport Scotland to carry out resurfacing and upgrading works on the 30-year-old Kessock Bridge, which crosses the Beauly Firth between North Kessock and Inverness.

The annual client figures show the DoH was the biggest client of 2012, providing £1.34bn-worth of work across 357 contracts. Twenty-eight of the top 50 clients last year were government departments or local government, accounting for 56 per cent of the work from the top 50.

Regulated utilities and Network Rail accounted for a further 18 per cent, with other private sector clients such as Land Securities and Tesco providing the remaining 26 per cent. The average value of DoH contracts was £3m, compared with £11m across the top 50 as a whole.

McLaren made an appearance in December’s top five, with £57.2m-worth of work, while ISG featured at number five having secured £45.6m.

Construction News reported in December that McLaren had been awarded a £39m contract by Land Securities for a 25,460 sq m mixed-use development at the former Sussex House site in Crawley.

The annual figures reveal how UK contractors fared throughout 2012. Balfour Beatty was the biggest winner for the third year running, with Laing O’Rourke holding the second spot.

Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK chief executive Mike Peasland told CN the firm had managed to maintain a strong competitive advantage in transport, power and water in the face of difficult markets.

Laing O’Rourke said it “continues to lead the industry through delivery of some of the UK’s most iconic construction and infrastructure projects”.

Sir Robert McAlpine took third place, with December’s top contractor, Kier, in fourth and Morgan Sindall in fifth.

The annual figures show that the Department of Health was the biggest client of 2012, providing £1.34bn-worth of work across 357 contracts.

Independent firms ruled the roost in December, with Gardiner & Theobald winning the most work over the month. The consultancy landed nine deals worth £48m. Fellow independent Turner & Townsend took second spot.

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