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Fri December 13 2019

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Builders’ Conference findings run counter to purchasers’ survey

5 Nov Yesterday the monthly survey of construction industry purchasing managers found that new orders had declined for the seventh month in a row; today the Builders’ Conference reports that actually new orders rose 15% in October.

According to the Builders’ Conference, new orders for UK construction contractors rose strongly in both August and September, despite most other indicators suggesting an industry suffering under political and economic uncertainty.

Builders’ Conference researchers seek to log details of every contract signed by construction contractors in the UK. They also include, for example, term maintenance contracts, where the work and the money may take time to filter through.

In October 2019 the Builders Conference logged 755 new construction orders from 443 different contractors. The total value of new contracts in October was £7.50bn, up 15% from £6.5bn in September, which was double the £3.18bn of new work signed in August. (The data is not seasonally adjusted; August and December are traditionally slower months.)

These findings run directly counter to what the IHS Markit economists behind the monthly survey of purchasing managers are telling us: that the industry is shrinking.

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The biggest single construction contract signed in October 2019 was awarded to Ardmore Construction, a £460m contract to turn the old War Office in Whitehall into a luxury hotel. This gave Ardmore top place in the BCLive contracts league table for the month. (Builders Conference values Ardmore’s contract at £480m.)

Engie UK took second place in October by winning 13 new contracts with a total value of £333m.   The largest of these is a £200m student accommodation development for the University of Leicester.

The BCLive contracts league has Costain MWH Joint Venture in third place as it signed a new five-year framework contract with Southern Water. That contract starts in April 2020 and, pending final determination of Southern Water’s business plan, could be worth around £325m.

BCLive Contracts League October 2019:  Top 20

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