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Hey big spender

Alasdair Reisner looks at which clients have provided the most work for the Top 100 contractors

For the first time, Construction News has taken a deeper look at the companies and organisations that provide the workloads that feed the contractors featuring in our main Top 100 list. We have looked at each sector to see who, according to Emap Glenigan, are the biggest spending clients from July 2007 to June 2008.

Private housing

In a bad year for the home builders, it was Barratt that just edged out rival Taylor Wimpey as the firm that awarded most work to the industry in the last 12 months.

While most of Barratt’s is carried out in-house, leaving main contractors largely frozen out, the £861 million spend will have been a bonanza for the myriad subcontractors that work on the housing giant’s jobs.

But given the current perilous conditions in the sector, firms might as well make the most of this work – such figures are unlikely to be repeated in the 2009 tables.

Public housing

While not the largest housing association in the UK, a £140 million contract award on its Dee Park regeneration scheme in Reading helped drive Catalyst Housing Group to the top of the table as it is working with Willmott Dixon subsidiary Inspace to build 763 new social and affordable homes.

Meanwhile, Southwark Council in London may not have spent the most but it led the way in terms of the number of deals it did, according to Emap Glenigan. It continued work to regenerate the borough including major projects such as the £1.5 billion revamp of Elephant & Castle.

Private sector building

Just as it dominates the retail sector, Tesco also exhibited best-in-class performance when it came to spending money with contractors last year. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this was all store building work. One of the largest projects for the retailer is Bowmer & Kirkland’s £50 million deal to build an import centre at Teesport.

Most of rest of the top 10 is made up of some of the largest blue chip developers. Eighth-placed Caddick may not be familiar to everyone but the firm has awarded a series of projects across the north of England in the last year.

Public sector building

The healthcare sector may not be booming like it was in the late 1990s during the early years Labour Government rule, but Glenigan reports that the Department of Health was still by far and away the biggest spender on public sector building work.

While the Welsh Assembly Government and Home Office took the silver and bronze medal positions respectively, the rest of the list is made up of local authorities.

The majority of this workload has come through redevelopment of councils’ schools estates as the Government’s spending on programmes such as Building Schools for the Future starts to kick into speed.


Just as the Department of Health dominates the public sector building spend, the Department of Transport is way ahead when it comes to infrastructure works.

The majority of work given by the department was through the Highways Agency, such as the £314 million widening of the A14 near Cambridge, awarded to a Costain-Skanska joint venture earlier this year. The bottom of the list comprises three power companies: Scottish & Southern, RWE and Danish outfit DONG.

Their positions are likely to increase in coming years as the UK grapples with the need to upgrade power stations and infrastructure across the country.