The Contracts League is listed each month in The Constrcution Index magazine. April's league table, including only construction contracts formally signed off during the month and therefore excluding preferred bidder appointments etc., is published in the May issue of the magazine, out next week.
The good news is that total contract awards registered by the Builders’ Conference in April 2013 were significantly up from March by a healthy £755m and up by £607m compared to April 2012.
A slight downside is that a third of the total value of new work signed in April 2013 is in a single 10-year framework contract – Morgan Sindall at Sellafield nuclear power station – and it may take a few years for the major workload here to filter through the supply chain.
More encouraging is an analysis of the first four months of 2013, compared to the same period last year. There is definitely improvement, with the total value of awards up by £1.13bn, so perhaps the construction industry has turned a corner.
Builders’ Conference chief executive Neil Edwards has learned to be wary, however. “We have seen false dawns before since 2009 and a sustained growth period of nine months or more needs to have happened before the light at the end of the tunnel becomes a reality,” he says.
The rolling year total, which slipped a little last month, has now inched back above £24bn.
Top of the table for April is Morgan Sindall, with nine new contracts totalling £966.1m. The largest is the aforementioned framework for refurbishment works at Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria. The contractor is working on this project in conjunction with consulting engineer Arup as the Sellafield Infrastructure Strategic Alliance.
Morgan Sindall also won a £22m contract to build a five-storey speculative office development for Clyde Gateway in Dalmarnock, Glasgow. The project was originally conceived as a new headquarters for Strathclyde police but was then shelved amid a reorganisation of policing in Scotland. Clyde Gateway revived the scheme, backed by £16m of Scottish government funding, to act as a catalyst for regeneration of the area and help grow the newly-created ‘national business district’.
The building has been designed by Cooper Cromar, aided by structural engineer Halcrow and M&E engineering Wallace Whittle; quantity surveyor is Turner & Townsend. The construction contract was keenly contested with seven bidders battling over it: Balfour Beatty, Barr, Dawn, Graham, McAleer & Rushe and Robertson were the losers.
The Builders’ Conference ranks Interserve in second place this month on the basis of a £100m framework contract for repair and maintenance work for East Thames Housing Group that will run for 10 years. This deal sees Interserve providing residents with day-to-day repairs, planned maintenance and redecorating, annual gas servicing and gardening/cleaning communal areas.
A similar sort of deal powered Mears to fourth place – a 10-year maintenance contract for Richmond Housing Partnership valued at £80m over the duration. Mears saw off competition from Mitie to win this one.
Between these two, in third place, is Willmott Dixon, with three new contracts totalling £89m. These include a £40m housing deal for Taylor Wimpey, building flats on the Greenwich Millennium Village development in London. Willmott Dixon has also signed a £40m deal to build an 11,000m2 care village in Ascot for the BEN Motor & Allied Trade Benevolent Fund. An existing care home is to be demolished and rebuilt. There will be new facilities and extra care apartments, as well as new headquarter offices for the charity itself.
The Ascot scheme is designed by KWL Architects, while quantity surveyor for the project is Andrew Wilson Partnership and structural engineer is Nicholson Jones.
Another noteworthy deal signed in April was a £50m contract for student accommodation won by Watkin Jones, the Welsh builder/developer that has carved quite a track record in this market. Its latest project is a 475-bedroom development with an additional 15 social housing apartments on the site of existing industrial units in London’s Finsbury Park.
It is also interesting to note, once again, the extent to which Balfour Beatty, Britain’s biggest contractor, is looking to small contracts to maintain its market position. It won 10 contracts last month worth a total of £60.1m, making the average size of its new contract awards just £6m. Kier also picked up 10 contracts last month, with a total value of just £46.9m.
Still yet to be included in our Contracts League is the £1bn Google headquarters project in the King’s Cross district of London. BAM Construct is preferred bidder and is expecting to start work on site this year, but formal contract award had yet to be signed by the end of April. Expect to see BAM jump back to the top of the May table in next month’s issue, as well as the rolling year league.