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Contracting back in the limelight


AFTER years of skulking in the shadows, traditional broadbased contracting now finds itself in the spotlight as the sound business to be in.According to the financial survey of the Top 100 contractors and house builders published in this week's Construction News, general contractors can now claim to be the industry's solid performers.

They may not top the house builders, which have enjoyed an exceptionally frothy market, but they now proudly stand head and shoulders above specialist subcontractors and big services contractors, which have fallen from grace as the industry's star performers.

Why has the limelight shifted? It seems traditional contracting is no longer a dirty word among investors because of the way traditional firms have positively transformed themselves in recent years.

Hard-bid work may not have disappeared altogether but most firms now operate a broad mix of jobs, usually including a slice of private finance work, a stream of long-term contracts or a big portfolio of negotiated work.

At the same time staff numbers at these firms have rocketed by 18 per cent.There are a number of reasons for the rise, but reduced reliance on labour-only subcontractors seems to be paying dividends for those at the top.