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Felixstowe port redevelopment win lifts Costain

Our monthly look at building deals recorded by Emap Glenigan shows how the top contractors fared in May’s contract awards. By Steve Menary

Costain is moving up the annual Construction News contracts league table after sealing a £250 million deal with Hutchison Ports for the redevelopment of the port of Felixstowe in Kent.

The job puts it at the top of the May monthly table. Costain’s bumper haul lifted the firm one spot to ninth in the annual top 50, not shown here.

Laing O’Rourke, which moved up to second spot in the yearly league in May, strengthened its position by coming in as runner-up in the latest monthly table, with £168 million-worth of work, ranging from a £53 million commercial development for Thales Aerospace to a £23 million art gallery in Wakefield for the local council.

Competition for public sector work is increasing as the UK’s economic troubles hit privately funded sectors.

The industrial sector is showing signs of contraction and could hit Dutch-owned VolkerWessels, which has topped this table for the past few months, thanks largely to work flowing through its UK based Fitzpatrick subsidiary.

Some big commercial projects are coming on stream, such as a £105 million conference and exhibition centre in London’s Docklands, which Sir Robert McAlpine will build.

McAlpine is second in the commercial contracts top 10 behind Bovis Lend Lease and recently lost the lead in the retail sector to Bowmer & Kirkland, which has a strong relationship with retail clients.

Carillion appears to be the contractor most exposed to private sector housing, which is set to dry up. Some house builders, such as Kier and McInerney, are starting to switch their attention away from this sector and onto social housing.

Kier is the strongest contractor in the public housing sector and has led this table for the past few months but the presence of Anglo-Irish outfit McInerney barely registers so far.

New players trying to enter the public housing arena face a struggle as this sector is dominated by well-established contractors that have featured in the top 10 for some time.

Until recently Morgan Sindall topped this table through the operations of its Lovell subsidiary and remains in second spot ahead of Connaught and Apollo, which have both established a place near the top of the public housing league.

Willmott Dixon returned to the top 10 through its £148 million acquisition of Inspace, which was one of those at the social housing top table. The enlarged business is in fifth place ahead of experienced London based social housing contractor Higgins, the UK’s biggest contractor, Balfour Beatty and another sector veteran, Mears.

Willmott Dixon also features in the education top 10 but it trails behind HBG, which has bagged orders of £845 million through a series of deals in the college and Public Private Partnerships schools markets. Second-placed Laing O’Rourke benefited from a similar mix of work.

Steve Menary is the author of Emap Glenigan’s 2012 Construction Projects – The Definitive Guide. For more information on buying a copy of the report and Glenigan’s other products go to

To download PDFs of the top 50 clients and contractors for May click on the resource box on the right hand side of the page