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O'Rourke orders hit £2bn

CONTRACTS LEAGUE Laing O'Rourke strengthens its position as annual leader as it benefits from shift by developers to flats rather than houses

RAY O'ROURKE's quest to secure a £5 billion turnover at his mushrooming empire has taken a big step forward with Laing O'Rourke's annual order book passing the £2 billion mark.

The firm won another seven jobs worth £385 million in May to top the monthly contractors table and strengthen its lead on the annual table.

Kier is the only other contractor to have won more than £1 billion-worth of work over the past 12 months.

In May, Laing O'Rourke's biggest success was a £300 million Private Finance Initiative hospital concession in Newcastle upon Tyne, which reached financial close.

The firm also bagged a £20 million deal to build flats in Birmingham for developer Urban Splash, with Laing O'Rourke proving the biggest beneficiary of a shift to build more flats than houses.With house prices increasingly unaffordable, developers and house builders are building more flats to keep profits up, but these schemes usually require the skills of a contractor.

The shift from housing to flats, predominantly in urban areas, has seen Berkeley, Wilson Bowden, Gladedale, Redrow and Barratt all enter the clients annual top 50.

Laing O'Rourke is becomingly an increasingly popular choice among house builders and a quarter of the firm's annual order book comes from this sector.

Laing O'Rourke also features in the top 10s for commercial, education, health and public housing.

The social housing contractors table is one of the few to show little variation each month among constituents with Laing O'Rourke stuck in fifth and the only change in May being Apollo London's debut appearance in 10th.

State investment in housing is expected to continue apace in Labour's third term in office.But much of this cash is ploughed in via framework deals, which are excluded from the sector top 10s with jobs only appearing on a project-by-project basis.

This is why only one housing association, Hyde, appears in the annual clients top 50 although a number of local authorities, which are other big spenders on social housing, do appear.