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Gains come from public sector as private jobs falter

Carillion heads February’s top 50 for a month in which many of the big contracts came from civils and public sector projects. By Steve Menary

Carillion continues to edge back up the contractor’s annual top 50 after adding £438 million-worth of work to the contracting titan’s order book during February.

The firm enjoyed the biggest orders’ haul last month and is now eighth in the annual table, where Balfour Beatty strengthened its hold on top spot.

Balfour Beatty ran in second in February after taking a share of a £445 million deal to extend the M74 in Glasgow.

Morgan Sindall, Galliford Try and Sir Robert McAlpine are also in the Interlink consortium, which has bagged this deal for a trio of clients, Transport Scotland, Glasgow City Council and South Lanarkshire Council.

Three of the Interlink team make the monthly top 10. All four of the Interlink grouping are ranked among the top ten civil contractors for the last 12 months, which is led by Balfour Beatty with £1.2 billion-worth of work.

Balfour Beatty was top this time last year, too, with a slightly smaller workload, but civils workload has increased over the past year and this is more evident looking further down the table.

Signs of vulnerability

VolkerWessels scrapes into tenth place with £256 million-worth of work, while a year ago Amec occupied the same spot but with less than £200 million-worth of work.

With the economy faltering and construction activity weakening according to recent research from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, all eyes are on spending in sectors where the client is
essentially the state or one that is controlled by regulation.

Areas where spending comes chiefly from the private sector - notably the commercial, retail and industrial sectors - have been showing underlying signs of vulnerability for some time.

A year ago, Bovis Lend Lease was top of the retail sector with £641 million-worth of work. Twelve months on, Laing O’Rourke has replaced the Anglo Australian firm but with a total nearly £200 million lower.

With this sort of weakness expected to continue, the industry will be more and more reliant on state-funded sectors and the increase in civils work to boost optimism.

A rise in power station work, for example, has seen engineering giant Siemens surge up the table. Ranked third in February, the company is now just outside the top 10 in the annual league.

In public housing, Kier is top with £522 million-worth of work - virtually double the amount boasted by Morgan Sindall, the leader in this sector this time last year.

The total for the firm occupying pole position in the education sector - HBG, in this case right - has also doubled, while four firms in the medical top 10 have £100 million or more of work compared to just one this time last year.

For more information on Emap Glenigan league tables email contractsleague@glenigan.emap.com. For further details of its construction intelligence services call Freephone 0800 373771 or visit www.glenigan.com