While chief executive Ian Tyler may claim not to be interested whether his firm, Balfour Beatty, is the biggest contractor in the UK, the last year has seen the competition for the top spot fall away, according to this year’s Construction News Top 100.
With Amec moving out of the industry, and with a re-appraisal of how we deal with Taylor Woodrow’s figures following its marriage to George Wimpey, Balfour Beatty now stands head and shoulders above its rivals. With overall revenues nudging close to £6 billion the firm has the financial might to compete on a global stage, taking on the best that the rest of the world can offer.
The fact that second and third place go to Carillion and Laing O’Rourke, firms that have themselves expanded into markets far-flung from their UK bases, suggests that the UK’s largest firms have found something to offer that appeals to clients whether they hail from Walsall or Warsaw; Abu Dhabi or Aberystwyth; New York or Newcastle.
Perhaps one way these firms are differentiating themselves is by their approach to corporate social responsibility. There can be little doubt that, at least in part, the industry is moving away from the old days of lowest-price wins, towards an approach that takes on board a whole range of other factors such as environmental performance, work with communities, health and safety and employee relations. It is for this reason that, for the first time, Construction News, has surveyed the entire Top 100 to find out where these businesses stand on a range of CSR indicators.
While the results of this can only ever give a partial view of what is a very diverse subject, the figures accumulated seem to show that the Top 100 is leading the way in many areas, providing an example for the rest of the UK construction sector to follow.
Hopefully, in years to come, UK firms will also get many more opportunities to demonstrate these capabilities on projects around the globe.