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This year's big movers: Specialists Index 2017

This year’s CN Specialists Index reveals a booming market for subcontractors, with firms now reaping the financial benefits of increased activity.

But which firms across the seven sectors in the Index have seen the largest increase in turnover since last year’s rankings?

Building envelope

Building envelope

Building envelope

A top 10 where seven firms have recorded double-digit increases in turnover since the 2016 Index features several stand-out performers.

Sixth-placed Permasteelisa has seen a 54.4 per cent increase in turnover to £70.1m, up from £45.4m a year earlier, while facades specialist Lee Marley Brickwork boosted turnover by 47.2 per cent to £40.6m, allowing it to enter the top 10 for the first time in 10th place.

However, it was Yuanda UK that posted the largest turnover growth among the top 10, with revenue at the Chinese-owned contractor rising by 66.5 per cent to £58.5m, up from £35.2m.

Projects the firm is working on include 100 Bishopsgate with main contractor Multiplex, the £150m Madison tower in east London with Balfour Beatty, and the One Nine Elms residential development on the banks of the Thames.

Concrete

Concrete

Concrete

It was a similar story in the concrete sector, where nine of the top 10 recorded double-digit growth in turnover. Only Masterson, which saw revenue drop by 7.3 per cent to £144m, suffered a decline in 2017’s Index compared with last year’s.

Aside from CJ O’Shea, which posted a 119.1 per cent revenue rise after extending its financial year, the stand-out performer was Foundation Developments, which saw turnover break the £100m barrier.

The contractor’s revenue soared 46.3 per cent to £113.4m, up from £77.6m in last year’s Index, although the firm actually dropped one place in the table to eighth despite this growth.

Foundation Developments said the boost in turnover was due to the completion of previously delayed projects during the year, alongside a “significantly improved” order book.

Top 10: Turnover growth


CJ O’Shea more than doubled its turnover in this year’s Index, though it has changed its reporting period to year to March. Three of the top 10 ranked by turnover growth are concrete firms, with no representatives from ground engineering or M&E.

Demolition

Demolition

Demolition

In a top 10 that boasts an average pre-tax margin of 8.9 per cent, John F Hunt saw the largest increase in revenue, with the Grays-based specialist posting an 82.8 per cent increase in revenue.

Turnover at the company now stands at £84.4m, up from £46.1m in last year’s Index, while it also hit pre-tax profit of £7.5m. John F Hunt added more than 50 extra staff since last year’s Index, with employee numbers reaching 363.

Elsewhere in the demolition top 10, Keltbray cemented its position at the top of the table with a 35.7 per cent increase in turnover.

The demolition giant now has a turnover of £369.4m, up from £272.3m in the 2016 Index, and recorded pre-tax profit of £23.6m.

However, the highest pre-tax profit margin was achieved by 10th-placed DSM at 35.7 per cent, after making a profit of £8.9m on a turnover of £24.9m.

Ground engineering

Ground engineering

Ground engineering

Growth in ground engineering’s top 10 was slightly more modest than some other sectors but impressive nonetheless, with five companies seeing a double-digit rise in turnover in this year’s Index.

Hydrock chalked up the largest turnover increase at 46.7 per cent, up to £58.8m from £40.1m in the 2016 Index. The Bristol-based business, which comprises both contracting and consulting arms, posted a pre-tax profit of £2.9m and a margin of 5 per cent.

Other big increases include a 24.2 per cent rise in turnover at Greenwich-based O’Keefe, which saw turnover grow to £73.2m, up from £58.9m. Deputy managing director Lee Horsley, speaking to CN as part of this year’s Index, said his firm was seeing major opportunities in the PRS market – particularly in London.

Mechanical & electrical

Mechanical & electrical

Mechanical & electrical

The M&E top 10 was the only sector to report an overall decline in turnover in this year’s Index, with total revenue dropping to £2.93bn – down from £3.49bn last year. However, it remains the largest sector covered by the Specialists Index in terms of turnover, and some of its biggest names have still enjoyed strong years.

Michael J Lonsdale, NG Bailey, Spie and TClarke all saw revenues rise by more than 10 per cent, with NG Bailey replacing SSE Contracting at the summit of the top 10 after its revenue grew 22.7 per cent to £500.3m.

Spie reported the largest increase in turnover, up 29.3 per cent to £284m from £219.7m. However, the company posted a pre-tax loss of £11.5m in this year’s Index. Earlier this year, the contractor appointed Rob Goodhew as its new CEO, replacing former chief executive James Thoden van Velzen.

Top 10: Margins


DSM recorded a pre-tax profit of £8.9m on a turnover of £24.9m to give it an eye-catching 35.7 per cent margin in its latest results. Four of the top 10 firms ranked by margin were scaffolding specialists, with no concrete, ground engineering or M&E making the grade.  

Scaffolding

Scaffolding

Scaffolding

The scaffolding top 10 saw the lowest increase in total turnover of any of the seven specialisms in this year’s Index, the combined top 10 edging up just 0.9 per cent to £916.9m from £908.8m in last year’s table.

Turnover growth tilted towards the latter half of the table: while the top three all suffered declines in turnover, the bottom four firms all reported double-digit increases.

Chief among these was Alandale Scaffolding, which boosted turnover by 72.1 per cent to enter the top 10 for the first time in 10th place. The London-based scaffolder, which has worked on projects including ISG’s revamp of Kew Gardens’ Temperate House, also posted a pre-tax profit of £5.3m and a margin of 25.4 per cent – the highest in the top 10.

The only other change to the top 10 was Trad Group and Brand Energy Infrastructure swapping places to stand fifth and sixth respectively.

Steel

Steel

Steel

This year’s steel top 10 has involved a combination of double-digit declines and impressive increases in turnover.

The major change to the rankings has seen Mabey Bridge drop five places from fifth to 10th after the company’s turnover dropped 59.7 per cent to £21.6m, down from £53.6m, amid a restructuring plan. This has helped to curb losses at the firm, which posted a pre-tax loss of £1.1m in this year’s Index, compared with a £13.5m loss in 2016.

Billington, Caunton and Walter Watson all posted turnover growth of more than 10 per cent, but Cleveland Bridge recorded the biggest increase at 53.1 per cent, its revenue rising to £51.1m from £33.4m.

Severfield remains the largest steel contractor, with a turnover of £262.2m – up from £239.4m in last year’s Index.

Get recognised: Enter the Specialists Awards today

There’s still time to enter the UK’s only national awards that recognise the best specialist construction firms.

There are 18 categories to choose from and entry is fast, free and online – go to specialistsawards.constructionnews.co.uk for more details.

Contact George Thornton for help with your entry.

  • Demolition

    This year's big movers: Specialists Index 2017

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