Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top 5 construction tenders - 29 May

This week's top five construction tenders includes a ВЈ100m mixed use development in Cardiff, ВЈ25m worth of Decent Homes refurbishment work in Nottingham and a ВЈ21m university building in Coventry. The details are only a summary of what's on offer, for the full OJEU click on the link.

Cardiff: Mixed use

Value: ВЈ80m-100m The Welsh Assembly Government is looking for a developer or joint venture partners to build 'The Mill' development in Cardiff. Located at Ely Mill, the work will include 900 residential units, office, retail and community space. Applicants are required to have experience of mixed us developments which inculde renewable energy sources. Deadline: 8 JulyADVERTISEMENT

Top 5 construction tenders - 29 May


Nottingham: Refurbishment work

Value: ВЈ15m-ВЈ25m Local Authority Ashfield District Council, which runs 7,307 homes, is advertising for a contractor to maintain its stock. It completed its Decent Homes programme in 2005 but wants the contract winner to ensure that all properties that become non-decent receive the necesary replacements. Deadline: 8 June

Coventry: University construction

Value: ВЈ21m Coventry University is seeking a contractor to build a Student Enterprise Building. The three or four storey building will comprise accommodation for a range of functions including recreational learning, retail, student union, welfare, healthcare and student services. Deadline: 5 June

Telford: Technology park

Value: ВЈ6m-ВЈ10mThe Homes and Communities Agency wishes to appoint a development partner or consortium to construct an Enterprise Centre and managed workspace. The work will form phase one of Telford Technology Park, with further phases of development expected. A BREEAM rating of at least "very good" is required. Deadline: 3 July

Rotherham: Healthcare construction

Value: ВЈ5m-ВЈ10mNHS Rotherham is looking for a partner to develop three sites within the Rotherham Area. They are to be in Treeton, Dinnington and Dalton. All three sites will be design and build jobs for GP surgeries. The Treeton site is the only to have been identified so far. Deadline: 26 June


ВЈ250m Lewisham Gateway development moves a step closer

The ВЈ250m Lewisham Gateway regeneration scheme has moved a step closer to reality after the local council finalised the Section 106 agreement with the developer.

The 100,000m2 mixed-use development includes residential (57,000m2), offices (17,500m2), retail, hotel , education, healthcare and leisure space, plus parking.

A statement from the London Borough of Lewisham said: "The council can confirm that the planning permission and section 106 agreement for the Lewisham Gateway scheme have been completed. The Compulsory Purchase Order relating to properties on the Gateway site was confirmed in April."

Lewisham Gateway is a joint venture between Taylor Wimpey and Muse Developments, a subsidiary of Morgan Sindall.

Top 100 update: FM and specialist firms progress most in Q2

Balfour Beatty has extended its lead at the top of the Contract Journal Construction Top 100 in the latest quarterly update, but it's the FM players and specialists who make the most progress.

View the latest Top 100 Construction Companies table, Q2 2009View the latest Top 25 House Builders table, Q2 2009View the latest Top 20 Plant Hirers table, Q2 2009

Ian Tyler's contracting giant is now just a few hundred million shy of an eight-digit turnover, and is more than ВЈ4bn bigger than closest challenger Carillion, which itself recently passed the ВЈ5bn mark.

Laing O'Rourke remains in third, while Morgan Sindall noses past Kier into fourth.

Further down the ladder, Wates, Rok, Enterprise and Keller have all joined billionaires row.


Top 100 update: FM and specialist firms progress most in Q2


Other contractors doing well include Apollo, which rockets 30 places up the charts from 94th to 64th,

But it is mainly the facilities management and specialists that are making headway up the table: Mears moves up to 36th after a 38% increase in turnover; PC Harrington climbs to 73rd with turnover jumping a third; T Clarke is up to 61st; and Imtech rises to 69th.

In the basement battle, Old House Group has been relegated, while Bullock is a new face in the top league at 82nd after turnover leapt ВЈ50m to ВЈ182m.

In the misery league, aka the Top 25 House Builders table, Barratt has taken over at the top from Taylor Wimpey after the latter's turnover dropped almost half a billion to ВЈ3.47bn. TayWimp now props up the table when arranged by profit, with a whacking loss of almost ВЈ2bn.

Third-placed Persimmon 'enjoyed' similar fortunes, with turnover halving to ВЈ1.76bn, and a nasty deficit of ВЈ780m putting it only one place above TayWimp in the profit table.

The Top 20 Plant Hirers table looks a little less bleak, with Lavendon climbing one place to 5th after turnover rose 34% to ВЈ248m. The powered access hirer swaps places with Hewden Stuart, which suffered an ВЈ81m drop in turnover and posted a ВЈ200,000 loss.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Plans due in for ВЈ1bn Trump golf resort

A detailed master plan for tycoon Donald Trump’s new £1bn golf resort in Aberdeenshire will be submitted to the local council by the autumn.

The application will be the latest stage in a complicated planning procedure (see below) for the Trump International Golf Links scheme which contains proposals for two new golf courses and nearly 1500 homes.

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jnr visited Scotland last week to tour the site and announce a new executive vice-president to drive the project through against opposition from environmentalists and local residents.

Full planning applications are yet to be approved and the master plan will be revealed after the summer.

The new executive vice-president of Trump International Golf Links Scotland, Sarah Malone, said: “I think it’s a phenomenal project and we have a world class developer whose brand is associated with luxury and excellence.”


Plans due in for ВЈ1bn Trump golf resort


Construction work is expected to take four years once planning permission is granted and work includes two championship courses, 500 houses, 950 holiday homes and a 450 room, five-star resort hotel.

Jack Perry, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise said: “This is a very welcome application which has the potential to impact favourably not only on the economy of the northeast of Scotland but on the country as a whole. Investments such as this help Scotland to improve its tourism product and gain a valuable profile in world markets.”


Key stages in planning battle

March 2006 Trump announces plans to build new golfing centre in Aberdeenshire.

April 2006 Trump visits site as claims that First Minister Jack McConnell breached ministerial rules over dealings with Trump are rejected.

November 2007 Aberdeenshire councillors take the unexpected decision to reject the ВЈ1bn resort. Trump says he will not appeal.

December 2007 The Scottish Government announces it will decide whether the golf resort goes ahead.

June 2008 Public inquiry gets under way in Aberdeen.

November 2008 The Scottish Government approves the plans.

Autumn 2009 Master plan due in for final approval



Top 25 House Builders Q2 2009

The Top 25 house builders league table ranks the UK's 25 biggest house builders by turnover and profit. The table is updated quarterly, and was last updated in June 2009.

Rank byCompany NameTurnoverPre-tax profit TurnoverProfit12Barratt3,554.7137.3225Taylor Wimpey3,467.7-1,969.7324Persimmon1,755.1-780.047Bellway1,149.534.851Berkeley991.5194.366Miller721.539.2712Galliford Try716.718.984Gladedale664.385.2922Redrow650.1-193.91023Crest Nicholson544.3-383.0119Countryside517.826.5123McCarthy & Stone456.6114.41310Stewart Milne420.425.1145Bloor402.248.91515Cala290.76.31621Bovis Homes282.3-93.11718Kier242.8-23.41819Fairview223.2-32.31913Morris163.317.32011William Davis143.021.82114Keepmoat Homes135.514.4228Croudace129.531.72320Crosby Group127.2-76.72417McInerney116.4-9.02516Antler Homes114.0-7.8

First Crossrail detailed design contracts awarded

Capita Symonds, Mott MacDonald, and Ove Arup & Partners are to share a set of the first detailed design contracts on Crossrail.

The awards come under the Crossrail Design Framework Agreements announced in December 2008,.

The contracts awarded to date are:

• Package C150 – Royal Oak Portal - Capita Symonds Ltd
• Package C121 – Sprayed Concrete Lining - Mott MacDonald
• Package C122 – Bored Tunnels - Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd
• Package C134 – Tottenham Court Road Station - Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd

Commenting on the awards, Dr Graham Plant, programme director at Crossrail said: “These first design packages give the Crossrail project further impetus following the commencement of construction at Canary Wharf earlier this month. The awards mark the start of project’s detailed design stage and we look forward to working closely with all the successful companies in driving forward the design as we move towards the start of main construction works in 2010.”

Thursday, May 28, 2009

North Midland Construction £420,000 profit in Q1

North Midland Construction (NMC) reports that workload in the construction sector “is at an all-time low” Despite that, NMC’s first quarter trading delivered a £420,000 pre-tax profit on turnover of £36m.

In Q1 2008 there was a ВЈ970,000 profit figure although this did include a ВЈ300,000 exceptional item. Turnover in those three months was ВЈ51m.

Robert Moyle, chairman, told shareholders at today’s annual meeting: “Share prices in the construction sector declined dramatically in 2008, and it was small consolation to note in a report undertaken by Contract Journal that your company's share was the second best performer in the sector in 2008.”

NMC is sub-divided into three operating divisions: civil engineering, highways and utilities.

Civil engineeringADVERTISEMENT

North Midland Construction £420,000 profit in Q1


Experiencing “an unprecedented downturn” in revenue in the first quarter due to deferred expenditure by the water companies, a major sector for the division, and the postponement of several other non-water selected projects.

A loss of ВЈ190,000 was run up on a turnover of ВЈ13m in Q1.

In the same period last year, the division made a ВЈ290,000 profit on a ВЈ20m turnover.

Workload currently stands at 52% of budget, but orders are only booked once secured. An estimated ВЈ10m of water-related orders are currently being negotiated under the framework agreements and should be delivered during the current financial year.

The results for the previous two years have been affected by two problematic contracts and their lack of resolution has left the division “extremely cash negative”.

Slow progress is being made and some payments have been forthcoming.

Highways division

First-quarter profit of ВЈ52,000 on a revenue of ВЈ3m represents a decline in profit of 64%.

Current secured workload stands at ВЈ10m which is 56% of the year's budget.

Public sector tender opportunities remain at reasonable levels.

Utilities division

Successful in securing framework contracts for a range of telecommunications providers and operators. This has provided an element of insulation against the downturn.

For the first quarter, the division produced a profit of ВЈ360,000 on a revenue of ВЈ8m, compared with 2008 figures of ВЈ160,000 and ВЈ10m respectively.

Moyle commented: “The group target is to grow the business organically at the rate of 10% per annum. In the present economic climate, that is not going to happen.

“Therefore, a review of the structure of the business has been undertaken to implement cost-cutting measures.”

A redundancy programme has been drawn up to reduce overheads by 12.5%. Both site staff and operatives are affected.

Work complete on Olympic Velodrome foundations - PHOTOS

Construction of the foundations of the London 2012 Olympics Velodrome has been completed.

Work complete on Olympic Velodrome foundations - PHOTOS

More photos in our Olympic Velodrome gallery

The Velodrome is being built on the site of the former West Ham tip and more than 900 piles have now been driven up to 26 metres beneath the ground to complete the foundations of the venue.

Work to construct the concrete base structure of the Velodrome is also now a third of the way through and the first above-ground columns of the Velodrome structure will start to appear in late June.

The 6,000 seat Velodrome will host the Olympic and Paralympic indoor track cycling events in 2012.

Amey wins £25m FM contract

Amey has won a contract worth more than ВЈ25m to deliver facilities management services to the Department for Transport at its London headquarters.

The contract, at Great Minster House and two other departmental buildings nearby, will begin on 1 July.

The deal will last five and a half years, with a possible extension of another four and a half years.

Contractual responsibilities include: building engineering services; cleaning; waste disposal and pest control; catering; reception and conferencing requirements; security and mail porterage.

Mel Ewell, chief executive of Amey, said: “This prestigious contract win is a further validation of the appeal of Amey’s fully integrated end-to-end service, which builds in efficiencies through both scale and strategy. We won the contract because of the high quality of our response and look forward to delivering a full facilities management service for this important client.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Telford Homes makes pre-tax profit of ВЈ4.3m

Telford Homes is a rare species…a house builder that is quoted on the Stock Exchange that has not only made a profit but is so financially comfortable that its shareholders have enjoyed a £2m dividend.

Turnover in the 12 months to 31 March 2009 was higher at ВЈ110m (figure in previous year: ВЈ100m).

Pre-tax profit ran to ВЈ4.3m, down from the figure of ВЈ6.5m in 2008.

Telford would have managed a £7.3m profit if it hadn’t been for the toll of exceptional charges:

£2.9m – the reduction in the value of land and work-in-progress
£100,000 – redundancy costs

Telford is a residential developer in East London with a focus on regeneration projects within public sector partnerships.

Andrew Wiseman, chief executive, said he had positioned Telford to withstand the downturn in open market housing and is now receiving grants from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to increase the provision of affordable housing.


Telford Homes makes pre-tax profit of ВЈ4.3m


The ВЈ57m deal will part-finance more than 400 affordable homes over the next three years.

“This will enable us to continue profitable construction with the security of substantial forward sales on these projects,” said Wiseman.

“We continue to work with each of our customers to achieve successful completions but we are cautious in our expectation of failed contracts, should mortgage availability not improve.  .

"The regeneration of East London is ongoing. The slow down in open market residential construction will exacerbate the shortage of new housing.”

Wiseman has seen increased activity at Telford’s sales outlets over the last few weeks and “steady progress on legal completions”

The number of open market property completions achieved rose to 350 from 306 in the previous year.  Total revenue has grown by 10%.

In September 2008, Telford switched to a new accounting standard which resulted in a change to its accounting policies in relation to open market private homes with revenue and profit now recognised on legal completion. 

On affordable homes, sold to housing associations under construction contracts, revenue and profit is recognised on a percentage of completion basis.

There are currently over 700 affordable homes being developed and payments will continue to be received from the group's housing association partners as construction of these homes progresses.

Efforts to secure new sales have been concentrated on developments at Queen Mary's Gate in South Woodford and Nayland Court in Romford. 

At Queen Mary's Gate the first phase of the development, including 184 open market homes, was completed in May 2008 and all but one have been sold and occupied with the final property now reserved. 

At Nayland Court, Telford has 26 build-complete homes remaining for sale with demand for these being maintained by the 'My Choice Home Buy' scheme (MCHB) from the HCA - this provides a mortgage for up to 50% of the home with the further attractions of a low deposit and interest rate.

The processing of MCHB applications suffers from periodic delays in the release of funds but the group has seven homes currently reserved on the development all using this product. 

Amey wins ВЈ4.5m Thameslink contract

Amey has won a ВЈ4.5m contract with Network Rail to provide design and contract supervision services for the construction of platform extensions at nine stations on the Thameslink route.

The scheme will see the eight-car platforms at the stations extended to 12-car platforms, resulting in the contruction of two kilometres of new platforms.

Amey will be responsible for stations in the Outer Area from Elstree and Borehamwood north to Bedford.

The work will be managed by one of Amey's design offices in Birmingham and will be supported by two other consultancy offices in Swindon and York.

Amey will remain on site providing construction support until the end of 2011 when the project will be completed.

Blacklisting boss faces unlimited fine

Consulting Agency boss Ian Kerr faces an unlimited fine after pleading guilty to charges under the Data Protection Act.

Kerr's trial today came after he was implicated in the sale of a "blacklist" of construction workers to contractors.

While blacklisting itself is not illegal, it was alleged that the Consulting Association had committed a criminal breach of the Data Protection Act for  failing to register with the Information Commissioner.

Kerr, who was tried in his absence today at Macclesfield Magistrates Court, will be sentenced at the Crown Court after magistrates decided that the £5,000 fine they could levy was “wholly inadequate”.

Alan Ritchie, general secretary of UCATT, said: “The magistrates decision should be applauded. Mr Kerr set out to ruin construction workers’ lives. He deserves the maximum possible sentence.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tube Lines reports £76m capital expenditure spend in Q1

Tube Lines’ capital expenditure for the first quarter of the year ran to £76m, slightly down on the forecast figure of £80m.

The London Underground PPP operator, charged with upgrading one third of the Tube network, said: “The under-spend was because station upgrades have been delivered ahead of schedule and under budget”.

Also, the timing of some track upgrade work has been altered to take advantage of weekend closures planned for other reasons.

In a quarterly performance report covering the January-March period, Tube Lines said: “Good progress was made with the line upgrades. Testing has reached sophisticated levels and results are successful.

There were 43 zero delays over the quarter, an improvement on the 27 in the same quarter last year.

Station modernisations/refurbishments

Work is mobilised, ongoing or has been completed during the latest quarter at:

Goodge Street
Covent garden
Canons Park
High Barnet
Green Park
Clapham common
Hatton Cross

Monday, May 25, 2009

Top 5 construction tenders 22 May

This week's top five construction tenders includes a ВЈ45m research facility for University College London, an ВЈ11m building for the University of Cambridge and a ВЈ10m aircraft operations facility for the RAF. The details are only a summary of what is available, for the full OJEU click on the link.

London: Science facility

Value: ВЈ45m University College London plans to build a new scientific research facility at its Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behavior in London. It is looking for a contractor to design and construct the building and anticipates the project taking three and a half years. Deadline: 3 July

Leeds: Bus station construction

Value: ВЈ15m Metro (West Yorkshire PTE) intends to create an 'integrated transport scheme' at Castleford town centre. The work includes the demolition of existing properties, including rail station infrastructure, and the construction of a covered concourse providing bus and train passenger waiting facilities. The work will also include associated highway works and car park provision. Deadline: 15 JuneADVERTISEMENT

Top 5 construction tenders 22 May


Cambridge: Construction work

Value: ВЈ11.1m The University of Cambridge seeks a contractor to build a new building for its School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The design and build contract includes the demolition of an existing Victorian villa and construction of a building of four storeys plus basement. As the proposed facility will be in a conservation area the University of Cambridge says it must be "a high quality building". Deadline: 2 June

London: Education building

Value: ВЈ10m The Royal College of Art is looking to demolish one of its existing buildings and construct another at its Battersea site. The demolition includes an office building and bus garage, enabling the construction of a four-storey, concrete frame higher education building. The project is to be carried out under a single stage traditional procurement route using a JCT standard form. Deadline: 25 June

Suffolk: MOD work

Value: ВЈ10m Defence Estates is looking for a contractor to build a facility at its RAF lakenheath site. The building will house aircraft operations, flightline maintainers and the admin of the flying squadron. It will have to comply with the latest force protection requirements and house a secure briefing facility. Deadline: 6 July



Balfour Beatty celebrates opening of £15m Infinity bridge - PHOTOS

Balfour Beatty Regional Civil Engineering (BBRCE), the main contractor for the construction of the ВЈ15 million Infinity Bridge at Stockton-on Tees, last week celebrated the official opening of the footbridge.

Balfour Beatty celebrates opening of £15m Infinity bridge - PHOTOS

See more photos at ConstructionSpace

BBRCE’s Northern Region led the local team in delivering the vision of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Tees Valley Regeneration and the aspirations of the designers Expedition Engineering.

The 273 metre-long footbridge, linking Teesdale with the Northshore site has already won the ICE North East Robert Stephenson Award and Constructing Excellence North East Project of the Year.

The footbridge was financed by:

Stockton Borough CouncilOne North EastHomes and Communities Agency European Regional Development Fund

Seven rivals jump in for £60m Essex reservoir scheme

Seven firms have jumped in for a ВЈ60m reservoir deal in Colchester, Essex.

The line-up for the Essex & Suffolk Water scheme is Sir Robert McAlpine, Blackwell, Carillion, Costain, Birse, Laing O'Rourke and BM Nuttall.

Bids are due back early in July, with work on site likely to begin either towards the back end of this year or early in 2010.

The job involves increasing the capacity of the 21km-long reservoir by raising its level by 3.2m.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Trade contractor pay rates drop

Earnings among most of the main construction trades dropped back again during April, according to the latest pay trends survey of 35,000 self employed workers by Hudson Contract.

View the full subcontractor pay trends data for April

Of the 85 categories, 32 (37%) show an increase in gross payments but 50 (59%) show a reduction in earnings. Only one shows no-change while two trade groups have insufficient work to warrant payments to subcontractors contracted through Hudson.

"The most encouraging sign is that all trades contracted and paid by Hudson were working except surfacing contractors in the North East and steel frame erectors in the South West," said Hudson Contract managing director David Jackson.


Trade contractor pay rates drop


"However, the overall earnings levels show a continued reduction in pay to the self-employed in-line with demands made by main contractors for a reduction in their costs and tendered rates submitted by firms chasing the reduced amount of work out there."

Scaffolding was the worst hit trade, with rates down in every region, the worst a 22% fall in the North West.

Plastering was also down in every region bar one, with the North West again suffering most, recording a 30% drop. Insulation dropped by 21% in the Midlands and by 10% in the North East, but was up 12% in the North West.

Electrical dropped in every region, the exception being a rise of 13% in the North West.

The sector which bucked the trend most was Equipment Hire, with the Midlands region recording a whopping 67% rise.

Bricklaying was up across all regions, the biggest increase 12.5% in the North East. Fit out rose by 15% in the South West and by 24% in the North West, but was down 16% in the Midlands.

Demolition increased 21% in SW, but dropped 18% in the North East.

Catalyst targets social housing PFI

Catalyst Lend Lease is raising its PFI bidding game, appointing former Trillium director Paul Hemmings to the new post of bid operations manager.

Hemmings will spearhead a move to break into the social housing PFI sector as well as increase bid rates in CLL's core sectors of education and waste management.

His appointment parallels a major restructuring at parent company Bovis Lend Lease earlier this month, aimed at beating the recession. Under the restructuring Lend Lease Project Management head Nick Saclley was tasked with improving the firms bidding rates with particular focus on PFI.

Hemmings comes with extensive PFI experience, particularly in the education sector. At Trillium, Hemmings headed the firm's PFI special purpose company InspirED Education and managed all Trillium’s new primary PFI infrastructure bids. He was also  programme director for the company’s Somerset BSF bid.


Catalyst targets social housing PFI


Prior to that Paul worked for 24 years with Amec Capital Projects and then moved to Amec Project Investments for six years. He began his career as a civil engineer with Fairclough Civil Engineering in 1978.

“Paul’s experience will be vital to us, both in current and future bids,” said Gary Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Catalyst Lend Lease.  “As a business we have a good record of converting bids to wins and now with Paul’s help we aim to further improve on that conversion rate and increase our competitiveness.”

Shepherd set to cut around 60 jobs

Shepherd Construction is preparing to make around 60 jobs redundant as part of a restructuring.

The job cuts, to be made across the firm's head office and regional operating divisions, come in response to a lower projected turnover of ВЈ260m for 2009/2010.

Shepherd blamed a slowdown in the market, combined with the salled Learning and Skills Council's college building programme. Shepherd Construction was lined up as a preferred bidder on a number of those schemes.

But it said that it had an "otherwise strong" orderbook for the rest of the financial year. It also announced that its Work Winning team and will shortly appoint a business director and divisional managing director for the South region.


Shepherd set to cut around 60 jobs


Allan McDougall, Shepherd Construction’s chief executive said: “These are tough times and have necessitated some very tough decisions being made, but we needed to re-align the business to ensure we remain strong in the light of the continued downturn in the construction market. We have always focussed on employing and developing the best people in the business and while it is regrettable we have to make some job cuts, this focus will remain. 

“Our projected turnover has been significantly affected by funds drying up in the education sector’s college building programme. Not only had we been at preferred contractor stage for projects at Peterborough, Telford and Bradford, but we had been actively tendering for a number of other college projects for which funding has now dried up.

“Importantly, Shepherd Construction remains one of the most financially strong construction companies in the UK today. Not only has Shepherd been financially rated in the top 2% of construction companies by Dun and Bradstreet, but our parent company, Shepherd Building Group made a pre-tax profit of ВЈ22.9 million last year. 

“The restructuring will ensure the company has the best foundations on which to grow rapidly once the economy improves. One of our strengths has always been that we have expertise across a number of sectors and we will continue to maintain a balance of work in each, including health, education and leisure.

“As part of our drive to ensure our business is fit for the future, the Shepherd Way, which is designed to eliminate any wastage and inefficiency during the build process will be embedded even deeper into the company.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shepherd picks up ВЈ13m worth of m&e work in York

BAM Construction has appointed Shepherd Engineering Service (SES) as the main m&e contractor on the extension of University of york's Heslington East campus.

SES is due to start work on the ВЈ13m contract during later summer 2009.

The deal relates to the first phase of the University's extension masterplan, which consists of four new buildings and is worth ВЈ66m-plus.

M25 PFI deal finally reaches financial close

The long-awaited M25 PFI scheme has finally been approved.

But the cost of the scheme has risen to ВЈ6.2bn - an increase of ВЈ1bn on previous estimates.

The scheme will see the Connect Plus consortium of Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Egis Projects and Skanska maintain the motorway, and widen it to a fourth lane on some sections, over the next 30 years.

M25 Q&A and VIDEOM25 PFI forum discussion on ConstructionSpace

Commenting today, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler, said:

"We are delighted that Connect Plus has reached financial close on the M25 DBFO contract. This landmark contract is critical in supporting London and, more widely, the UK's transport network.

"We look forward to transforming the M25 into a world-class motorway with the highest levels of safety and reliability."


M25 PFI deal finally reaches financial close


A total of 17 banks have funded the deal, and the increase in costs is thought to have been because the lenders wanted higher margins before they would commit to offering up the cash.

Work on the project will involve widening the M25 between junctions 16 and 23, as well as between 27 and 30. Improvements will also be made to the Hatfield Tunnel. The work is set to be completed before the start of the Olympic Games in 2012.

Meanwhile hard shoulder running will come into operation between junctions 5 and 7, as well as between 23 and 27.

Who funded the deal:

Connect Plus - ВЈ1.31bn (ВЈ200m equity with the remainder as debt) European Investment Bank - ВЈ185m 16 commercial banks - ВЈ925m

Carillion tops CJ50 for April thanks to jumbo airport win

Carillion flew to the top of the CJ50 in April having landed the contract to provide structured cabling at a satellite terminal at Heathrow Airport. The firm won over half a billion pounds worth of work from 13 contracts, making up a sixth of all work let in April.

At ВЈ2.8bn the total amount of work let was higher than the 12 month average, which stands at ВЈ2.55bn. Like the past four months infrastructure accounted for almost half of all work let, with the public sector accounting for a further quarter.

Alongside its Heathrow win, Carillion secured a trio of lucrative rail jobs including the ВЈ90m North London Line enhancement project, the ВЈ80m Airdrie to Bathgate rail link and the ВЈ31m Great Easter overhead line enabling works, all for Network Rail.


Carillion tops CJ50 for April thanks to jumbo airport win


The schemes cemented Carillion’s third place in the rolling 12-month total, though Costain made sure it didn’t create too much distance by taking seconds place in April and moving up to fourth in the 12 month table.

Costain won ВЈ409m worth of work, the majority of which was thanks to a deal with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to build new waste facilities in the city. It will be working for a joint venture of John Laing and waste contractor Viridor, who are delivering a 25 year waste services contract worth ВЈ3bn.

Also making a rare appearance in the top three thanks to a glut of rail work, Amey won £329m worth of work, the majority of which was civils contracts. As a member of Network Rail’s Civil Examination Framework Agreement it will soon start of £50m contracts in all five framework territories, putting the firm on track for ninth place in the rolling 12 month table.

Dropping two places to fourth Balfour Beatty won 53 contracts worth ВЈ266m across every sector except industrial. Its most significant was a ВЈ170m PFI deal for the NHS in Fife.

Meanwhile, Galliford Try moved up six places to fifth, its ВЈ200m haul including a ВЈ103m deal to restore St Pancras Chambers, the ВЈ25m вЂbig build’ scheme at Oakham in Rutland and a ВЈ16m highways framework in Wales.

Elsewhere Bam Construct dropped two places to sixth in the rolling 12 month table after not registering in April, passing Morgan Sindall who moved up one place to fifth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

London Borough fined after worker struck by 11,000V cable

The London Borough of Havering has been fined ВЈ10,000 after an employee of its Street Care Department struck an 11,000V cable buried in the pavement with a hydraulic breaker.

The employee suffered flash burns and electric shock during the accident which occurred on Main Road, Romford in December 2007. The worker, who was untrained, was using the hydraulic breaker to dig holes for the installation of a new bench.

LB Havering, based in east London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined ВЈ10,000 and ordered to pay costs of ВЈ9,810 at City of London Magistrates Court.

John Crookes, Health and Safety Executive inspector, said: "This incident could have been fatal. London Borough of Havering failed to provide a safe system of work as a result of which a temporary council worker was injured." 

Carillion tops CJ50 for April thanks to big airport win

Carillion flew to the top of the CJ50 in April having landed the contract to build a satellite terminal at Heathrow Airport. The firm won over half a billion pounds worth of work from 13 contracts, making up a sixth of all work let in April.

At ВЈ2.8bn the total amount of work let was higher than the 12 month average, which stands at ВЈ2.55bn. Like the past four months infrastructure accounted for almost half of all work let, with the public sector accounting for a further quarter.

Alongside its Heathrow win, Carillion secured a trio of lucrative rail jobs including the ВЈ90m North London Line enhancement project, the ВЈ80m Airdrie to Bathgate rail link and the ВЈ31m Great Easter overhead line enabling works, all for Network Rail.


Carillion tops CJ50 for April thanks to big airport win


The schemes cemented Carillion’s third place in the rolling 12-month total, though Costain made sure it didn’t create too much distance by taking seconds place in April and moving up to fourth in the 12 month table.

Costain won ВЈ409m worth of work, the majority of which was thanks to a deal with Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority to build new waste facilities in the city. It will be working for a joint venture of John Laing and waste contractor Viridor, who are delivering a 25 year waste services contract worth ВЈ3bn.

Also making a rare appearance in the top three thanks to a glut of rail work, Amey won £329m worth of work, the majority of which was civils contracts. As a member of Network Rail’s Civil Examination Framework Agreement it will soon start of £50m contracts in all five framework territories, putting the firm on track for ninth place in the rolling 12 month table.

Dropping two places to fourth Balfour Beatty won 53 contracts worth ВЈ266m across every sector except industrial. Its most significant was a ВЈ170m PFI deal for the NHS in Fife.

Meanwhile, Galliford Try moved up six places to fifth, its ВЈ200m haul including a ВЈ103m deal to restore St Pancras Chambers, the ВЈ25m вЂbig build’ scheme at Oakham in Rutland and a ВЈ16m highways framework in Wales.

Elsewhere Bam Construct dropped two places to sixth in the rolling 12 month table after not registering in April, passing Morgan Sindall who moved up one place to fifth.

Subcontractor pay trends: South West, April 2009

Supplied by Hudson Contract, these pay trends are the most accurate indications of subcontractor pay across the UK construction industry, based on payroll data from over 1,000 construction companies and 35,000 subcontractors.

.style5 { COLOR: red } .style6 { COLOR: green } South


3 months

3 months
% shift

Bricklaying479.60 470.00 + 2.04%Civil Engineering644.34 630.00 + 2.28%Demolition631.01 519.94 + 21.36%Electrical638.23 713.87 - 10.60%Equipment & Operator hire595.00 600.00 - 0.83%Fit out by specialist trades548.06 475.29 + 15.31%General Construction579.28 724.91 - 20.09%Insulation675.00 700.00 - 3.57%Joinery367.20 390.80 - 6.04%Mechanical412.00 400.00 + 3.00%Plastering992.50 1,037.04 - 4.29%Plumbing450.00 424.94 + 5.90%Roofing483.52 493.80 - 2.08%Scaffolding524.25 589.50 - 11.07%Shopfitting610.00 593.00 + 2.87%Steel & Timber frame erectN/A800.00 N/ASurfacing contractors520.00 550.00 - 5.45%

Monday, May 18, 2009

Children get better results in PFI schools says KPMG report

PFI schools are delivering improved results faster than traditionally rebuilt secondary schools and cutting truancy rates, according to a report published by KPMG this week.

The report, 'PFI in school building - does it influence educational outcomes?', revealed that the rate of improvement in student attainment in PFI schools was 44% higher than in schools traditionally rebuilt.

Bob Griggs, KPMG’s social infrastructure head said that the findings “clearly suggest that PFI schools appear to contribute to a more rapid increase in student results and better attendance.”

However the reasons for this difference are unclear.

Griggs suggests it may be the quality of the environment in PFI schools or because PFI construction schemes tend to come in on time, creating less disruption.


Children get better results in PFI schools says KPMG report


He concludes: “Our analysis suggests that private finance plays a positive role in the rebuilding of schools. Governments should therefore take account of these apparent benefits flowing from the use of private finance when deciding how investment programmes are financed.”

Welsh civils firm and Carillion set for court payment battle

A Welsh civil engineering firm has taken its bitter payment row with Carillion all the way to the High Court, in a bid to retrieve the ВЈ750,000 it claims it is owed.

Carmarthenshire-based Jones Brothers’ (Henllan) dispute stems from a package of subcontract works it undertook for Alfred McAlpine Capital Projects, which was taken over by Carillion in February 2008.

The Welsh contractor was engaged initially to carry out enabling works for the main access road of a holiday park called Bluestone in Pembrokeshire National Park.

In a writ lodged at the Technology and Construction Court, Jones Brothers (Henllan) details how it was then invited to tender for other packages of civil engineering and enabling works on the scheme.


Welsh civils firm and Carillion set for court payment battle


It claimed that it agreed with McAlpine that it should make applications for payment in respect of the whole of its subcontract works, rather than individual contracts and that the approach continued after the contracts were novated to Carillion.

But problems came to the fore after Jones Brothers (Henllan) made a May 2008 valuation, in which it tried to agree a вЂfinal account sum’ for each package of work it had completed, along with a 2.5% retention to be released in respect of each package.

The Welsh contractor alleges that its applications for payment were not valued in accordance with the mechanism provided by its contract conditions. And it claims that it has received no payment in respect of its August and September valuations.

Jones Brothers (Henllan) claims that it values its final account for payment at ВЈ6,401,625.99. But to date it alleges that Carillion has certified only ВЈ5,755,884.85 and paid just ВЈ5,494,112.88.

It is now suing Carillion for breach of contract, and is claiming a total of ВЈ747,472.56 through the courts.

Both firms declined to comment.

North Midland Construction in need of building work

North Midland Construction (NMC) is feeling the squeeze and today reports that “there is a requirement to win some contracts in the short term, particularly within the building subsidiary”.

In an interim management statement covering the period from the start of the year until now, NMC said: “The economic climate remains very difficult, particularly for the construction sector.

“However, the significant amount of framework contracts secured are still providing an adequate workload. 62% of projected revenue is already in place, but there is a requirement to win some contracts in the short term.”

Contracts for the construction of two new fire stations have been secured within the last month by North Midland Building. 


North Midland Construction in need of building work


All of the group’s divisions and subsidiaries are currently trading profitably, although turnover and profit has been running at a lower level than for the comparable period last year.

NMC says that it is confident that the full-year forecast can be attained but not without cost as “to achieve this forecast the group has had to reduce costs” and that has resulted in “some redundancies”.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bam Nuttall reports £28m profit and 3.2% operating margin

Bam Nuttall, the civils contractor, lifted turnover to ВЈ650m in 2008 with pre-tax profit also increasing to ВЈ28m.

The latest figures cover the 12 months to 31 December.

In the previous year (2007) there was a pre-tax profit of ВЈ19m on turnover of ВЈ590m.

The latest profit figure is enhanced by £7m of interest. The profit figure in 2007 was also enhanced by a non-operational element, with interest contributing a £5m towards that year’s profit.

Nuttall ended the year with ВЈ97m of cash in hand (comparable cash figure in the previous year: ВЈ105m).

After stripping out the ВЈ7m of interest element in 2008, the civil engineering operation achieved a margin of 3.2%.

The forward orderbook at the start of 2009 was £700m which Nuttall said provides “a solid position for 2009 as we enter into changing market conditions”.


Bam Nuttall reports £28m profit and 3.2% operating margin


Nuttall’s annual report reveals:

45% decrease in hand injuries 30% decrease in manual handling injuries 30% decrease in incidents relating to site access

During 2008, Nuttall said that it “continued to invest in its modern fleet of plant and equipment which will improve productivity on site”.

The company added: “We were one of the first to commit to the WRAP waste reduction targets”.

On 9 October 2008 the company changed its name from Edmund Nuttall to Bam Nuttall.

The group’s 3,005 employees were paid a total of £111m by way of wages and salaries.

Nuttall’s staff divide equally between weekly-paid and monthly-paid employees.

MJ Gleeson warns of further exceptional write-downs still ahead

M J Gleeson, once a major player in the construction industry as it followed the вЂhybrid’ model of running both construction and house building operations side by side, continues to wobble with today’s news of “further exceptional write-downs at the year-end”.

In February Gleeson reported that in the first six months of its financial year it had racked up a loss of ВЈ24m on a turnover of just ВЈ30m.The group has imploded dramatically in recent years having managed to make a mess of both its former house building and its construction activities.

Gleeson currently describes itself as an urban regeneration and strategic land specialist.

The group’s interim management statement made on the Stock Exchange today provides a trading update covering the period since 1 January 2009.


MJ Gleeson warns of further exceptional write-downs still ahead


Gleeson operates:

as a house builder, mainly in the north of England, with a focus on the regeneration of urban areas in partnership with or for public bodies

a strategic land development business, mainly in the south of England

a facilities management business, mainly in the north of England

a specialist business unit that hunts out PFI opportunities

When Gleeson last called the trading environment just three months ago, it stated that the market conditions facing the house building industry were the "worst in living memory". 

Today’s statement comments: “Since that time, consumer confidence has remained very low. There has been continuing downward pressure on selling prices and values. 

“Whilst welcome, the recent announcement by the government of a number of new measures to support the housing market appears to have done little, at least as yet, to restore confidence.

Gleeson Strategic Land has not sold any sites with planning permission and is not expected to do so in the year to 30 June 2009.  The group reports that: “The board will continue to resist the temptation to sell land at a discounted value merely in order to meet year-end targets.”

Gleeson Capital Solutions continues to progress potential PFI opportunities and is one of two final bidders on two PFI prospects in the north of England.  

Powerminster Gleeson Services continues to be cash generative. 

The Group remains cash positive.

Today’s statement reports: “The board does not expect revenue in the second half of the financial year to exceed that achieved in the first half; and, due to the continuing decline of values, it is expected that there will be further exceptional write-downs at the year end.”

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mayor Boris blocks £100m market plan

Plans for a ВЈ100m redevelopment of Queen's Market in Upton Park, east London were rejected by the Mayor of London today.

Boris Johnson has turned down plans from developer St Modwen Properties after its proposals were passed by Newham councillors.

The mayor's decision was based on the height, appropriateness and quality of design of the 31-storey tower dominating the scheme. The plans proposed three residential tower blocks containing 350 flats alongside 6,374 square metres of retail space and 164 market stalls.

The development has been opposed by campaigners called the Friends of Queens Market. They said the plans directly threatened the existence of the 110-year-old award-winning market which sells a wide range of affordable, healthy and diverse produce in one of the poorest London boroughs.


Mayor Boris blocks £100m market plan


Building work would have meant a split-site temporary market forcing out 40% of the traders.

Campaigner Alice Cook said: "We are so pleased that Boris has stopped St Modwen and the Council’s plans. High-rise blocks are not the solution to improving this area and now we have the possibility of an alternative development and improvement plan, supported by local people, retaining the rent levels and character of the market."

PFI schemes to stay off-balance sheet

Delayed PFI projects could be unlocked following Treasury guidance aimed at keeping PFI schemes off the Government's balance sheet.

Under new Treasury guidance, PFI schemes will still be accounted for on departmental accounts. However a different accounting standard for PFI schemes will apply for the Treasury's budgeting purposes.This will be based on the European accounting standard, applied by the Office for National Statistics to the national accounts. It means many PFI projects will continue to count as off-balance sheet.

Nick Prior, head of government and infrastructure at consultants Deloitte, said: "This clarification is extremely welcome for the future of PFI and PPPs. Government departments should now be able to bring forward projects that have been delayed because of uncertainty over budgetary arrangements."


PFI schemes to stay off-balance sheet


Under new international accounting rules most PFI schemes were due to be brought onto the Government's balance sheet by April this year. However the move has posed accounting problems for some departments, particularly the Department of Health, resulting in a slew of PFI schemes being held up.

Cowlin's £36m hospital scheme facing 15 month delay

Cowlin Construction's ВЈ36m Cym Rhonnda hospital scheme in South Wales could open fifteen months late, because the floors are too hot to walk on.

The new Cwm Rhondda hospital was due to open last autumn but the underfloor heating system has caused floor tiles to buckle with floor temeratures reaching 40C.

Cardiff-based Cowlin Construction, which made 68 staff redundant earlier this year, declined to comment. 

However Cwm Taf NHS Trust confirmed theat it had commissioned an independent review to look into "apparent defects". Repair work could take until next spring to complete.

Sources say the flooring was laid without sufficient expansion joints to cope with the state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly underfloor heating system.


Cowlins £36m hospital scheme facing 15 month delay


Conservative health spokesman Andrew Davies  said: "It could be next spring before this problem is made right - and that may mean money has to be spent on the antiquated hospital where patients are being treated in the meantime."

The hospital will have 100 rehabilitation beds, an eight-bed stroke unit, an outpatient department, minor injuries unit and an integrated primary care centre.

David Lewis, director of finance at Cwm Taf NHS Trust, said: "We have had practical completion of the hospital and there are apparent defects in the flooring.

"We have commissioned an independent review to determine whether there are defects and, if so, what remedial action needs to be take.

"We will have this report by the end of the month and we will then know what the next step will be."

Cowlin Construction Cowlin was acquired by Balfour Beatty in 2007 as part of the firm's plan to expand into South Wales.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Horbury Group wins three contracts worth £8.5m

Rotherham-based contractor The Horbury Group has won contracts at three universities worth a total of ВЈ8.5m.
Horbury Building Systems (HBS) and MWS Joinery, two of the nine companies which make up the group, have been appointed to work as a subcontractor on campus accommodation expansions in Leeds, York and Birmingham.

The projects, which are being developed at Leeds’ Metropolitan University’s Carnegie Village, York’s Goodricke College and Birmingham’s Aston University sites, will house over 4,000 students between them.

Trevor Wragg, managing director of The Horbury Group, said: “These developments are massive regeneration projects for the cities in question as they will draw more students and visitors to the areas.


Horbury Group wins three contracts worth £8.5m


“It is testament to the expertise within our group that we have clinched these contracts and continue to be involved in crucial development projects on a national scale.”

Work is scheduled to finish in autumn 2009.

Horbury Group wins three contracts worth £8.5m

Caption: How the accommocation at Leeds' Carnegie Village will look

Land Securities reports loss of £4.8bn

Land Securities has reported a staggering ВЈ4.8bn pre-tax loss. The sum completely out-shadows the problems of the previous year when the group was in the red to the tune of ВЈ1bn.

The latest loss is the result of a £4.7bn downgrade in the valuation of Land’s assets.

The 34% valuation fall was the result of “unprecedented market conditions” said the group.

Financial figures released today cover the 12 months to 31 March 2009.

The loss would have been higher but for over ВЈ1.1bn of disposals. Land's future prospects have been enhanced by a successful ВЈ760m rights issue three months ago

Francis Salway, chief executive, said: "This year the UK commercial property sector saw the sharpest fall in capital values on record as the full severity of the economic downturn hit the sector. Our portfolio was not immune.


Land Securities reports loss of £4.8bn


"We expect conditions to remain challenging in a weak economic environment, with vacancy rates rising and rental values weakening.

Land’s last rights issue was 29 years ago.

“From the sale of Trillium to the pause in development at Ebbsfleet, we have seized every opportunity to strengthen our position,” said Salway.

During the year the previous chairman, Paul Myners, left the board, as did Rick Haythornthwaite and Trillium chief executive Ian Ellis.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Babcock's rail division runs into ВЈ6m operating loss

Babcock International might have had a grand time last year when looked at overall but its rail division was in turmoil – running up an operating loss of more than £6m on turnover of £230m.

The previous year was hardly fantastic – with a similar turnover in rail generating an operating profit of just £500,000.

Babcock’s latest financial figures published today cover the 12 months to 31 March.

The insight offered into the group’s rail business reports: “The division has focused on recovery and delivering financial improvements.

“We continue to manage out a number of underperforming multi-disciplinary projects that have had an adverse impact on our performance.
“Our effort is now on using our expertise to secure track renewal, power and signalling contracts efficiently to ensure the division delivers acceptable levels of return.


Babcocks rail division runs into ВЈ6m operating loss


“Our track, signalling and telecommunication framework contracts provide a steady flow of profitable work.

“Network Rail is seeking to reduce volumes placed through existing track renewal frameworks and increase work placed through track enhancement frameworks. We are one of seven qualified contractors for these enhancement works, valued in excess of £100m over five years.”
Building on a five-year partnership with Swietelsky for high-output track renewals, the Swietelsky Babcock Rail (SB Rail) joint venture has submitted a tender for the high-output track renewals framework contract currently valued in excess of ВЈ500m over five years.

The name of the successful contractor should be known in June/July with work expected to start in September 2009.

“Despite a 30% reduction in Network Rail's track renewal budget we believe there are a number of opportunities for the division to benefit from growth in track enhancement projects and high output track renewal as well as other framework opportunities,” says Babcock.

Babcock’s nuclear division made an operating profit of £13m on turnover of £110m.

There was an operating profit of ВЈ7m on turnover of ВЈ120m.

The division has achieved major contract wins in the transmission business and continued growth in the National Grid Electricity Alliance contract (a joint venture with AMEC).

Long-term alliance partnering has helped insulate the division from some market volatility and provide greater visibility and increased work streams, although this is at a slightly reduced operating margin.

Margins were also impacted by start up losses in the Irish telecoms business.

Both the National Grid and EDF Energy Networks Alliances have had successful second years, delivering “strong volumes” with notable improvements in efficiency, innovation and safety performance. 

Specialist transmission design activities again increased throughout the year. Sustained recruitment for both our London and Sofia offices helped the design function respond to the increasing business needs.

The division's communication business successfully completed its first fixed line communication network contract and there have been consistent work loads throughout the year.

“We are now established in this market with a strong pipeline of further opportunities,” said Babcock.
Digital Switchover work has provided a steady revenue stream. Following the acquisition of National Grid Wireless by Arqiva, Babcock now works with a single customer who is responsible for the entire new network being built for the UK Digital Switchover programme. 
The group made an overall pre-tax profit of ВЈ110m on turnover running to ВЈ1.9bn.

Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS

Morgan Est has made a successful tunnel breakthrough at New River Head in Islington, as part of its ВЈ28m contract to extend the Thames Water Ring Main.

Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS

Yesterday's breakthrough follows 12 months of tunnelling, which began at Thames Water’s Stoke Newington Reservoir in Hackney.

Daljit Dhanda, Morgan Est Project Manager, said: “The entire team has done extremely well in delivering this tunnel.

“It has been a reliable drive and we have had good steady progress in often challenging conditions.

Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS

“The project has been undertaken in a quiet residential area with work continuing 24-hours a day, five days a week.

“Through constant monitoring of noise levels, effective mitigation measures and a professional disciplined workforce we have ensured the agreed constant levels were not exceeded and have minimised our impact on the local environment.


Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS


Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS

“The breakthrough itself went extremely well and is testament to the consistent dedication and hard work of our team.”

Morgan Est’s contract required the construction of a 4.5km tunnel which connects a major water treatment works to the London Ring Main, a 50-mile water tunnel forming a complete ring around the capital.

Morgan Est breaks through on Thames tunnelling job - PHOTOS

The finished 2.6m diameter concrete-lined tunnel will link the water treatment plant at Coppermills with the Thames Water Ring Main ensuring greater resilience of London’s potable water supply.

Project completion is scheduled for spring 2010.

Surrey contractor fined ВЈ15,000 after employee is paralysed in fall

A surrey construction firm has been fined ВЈ15,000 after an employee was paralysed from a fall from height onto a concrete floor.

Fine Construction UK, based in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The court fined the company ВЈ15,000 and ordered them to pay costs of ВЈ8,091.99.

The incident took place on 22 February 2008, at a site in Popes Lane, London W5, in which a builder fell 3.3m through a roof light void while working on an extension to a domestic property.

There was no boarding to cover the roof lights and no crash deck underneath to limit the impact of a fall. The employee suffered serious back injuries as a result of the fall and no longer has use of his legs.


Surrey contractor fined ВЈ15,000 after employee is paralysed in fall


Following the prosecution the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging employers to ensure proper safety procedures are in place when working at height.

HSE Inspector Kevin Shorten, said: "Forward planning, vigilance and a willingness to spend time and money on suitable safeguards could prevent incidents like this one and avoid the personal and financial trauma associated with them."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Laing O'Rourke in line for Isle of Dogs Crossrail civils work

Laing O'Rourke has been chosen as preferred bidder for enabling and civil engineering works at the Isle of Dogs Crossrail station.

Meanwhile client Canary Wharf Group is understood to be in talks with Laing O'Rourke's Expanded division to design and build the station for a fixed price of ВЈ500m.

Isle of Dogs will be one of the first Crossrail sites where construction will get underway.

The station box is due for completion in summer 2012, five years before the first Crossrail trains are due to run in 2017.

Tony Douglas, Laing O’Rourke chief operating officer, said: “Everyone at Laing O’Rourke is very proud to have achieved preferred bidder status for the first package of work for this massive transport project”.


Laing ORourke in line for Isle of Dogs Crossrail civils work


George Iacobescu, chief executive at Canary Wharf Group, added: “It is exciting to see the much anticipated Crossrail project pick up speed. Canary Wharf and London’s transport infrastructure needs to keep pace with future growth, especially if we are to retain our position as a global commercial centre in the face of competition from developing cities around the world.

“We are pleased to put our experience and expertise in developing top-quality, large scale buildings to use on this important project for London, and look forward to working with our contractors to deliver a station on time and on-budget.”

Travis Perkins' shareholders to put £300m of cash into its coffers

Travis Perkins, the builders’ merchant, has announced a rights issue and will print new shares that it will sell, thereby raising £300m in cash.

The deal to Travis’s existing shareholders is a 7-for-10 offer (they can buy seven of the new shares for every 10 already owned).

The move will see the creation of 86m new Travis shares at a price of 365p which is a 52% discount to the closing price of 754p on 8 May 2009, the last business day prior to announcement of the somewhat anticipated move.

Travis said: that the weakening economic conditions which started in 2008 and have continued since then have eaten into operating performance.

During 2008, Travis swung the axe with cost reducing and brought in cash-generating initiatives.


Travis Perkins shareholders to put £300m of cash into its coffers


As a result heads rolled, capital expenditure went out of fashion, working capital was cut back…and even shareholders took a little pain by forgoing their final dividend.

None of those moves proved a complete answer, hence the need for more cash.

A trading update this morning indicates that:

group turnover in the four months to the end of April was 14% down merchanting operations had seen an 18% drop (or 19% on a like-for-like basis) retail sales down 2% in the 18-week period to 2 May kitchen and bathroom sales up 13%

Travis has a net debt of £980m already and the board said it “expects the group's markets to continue to weaken until at least the third quarter of 2009.”

Geoff Cooper, chief executive, said: "The rights issue will strengthen the balance sheet and position the group to be ready to take advantage of opportunities when markets eventually recover.”

Ashtead latest profit on line for £91m but prospects getting worse

Ashtead generated £230m of cash in the financial year just ended – the hire group’s 12-month period ran through to the end of April.

The ВЈ230m total splits between ВЈ140m from operations and ВЈ90m from the sale of Ashtead Technology.

Net debt at 30 April was ВЈ1.0m; more than ВЈ100m lower than the ВЈ1.1bn of net debt three months earlier at 31 January 2009.

In a trading update this morning, Ashtead said that the group expects to generate at least a further ВЈ100m of net cash flow in 2009/10 after making the appropriate investment in its rental fleets.

Ashtead won’t give full details of pre-tax profit until 18 June but City analysts’ forecasts range from £86m to £95m with a consensus average of £91m.


Ashtead latest profit on line for £91m but prospects getting worse


Ashtead had warned earlier that performance in the second-half was down.

In the previous year the figure was ВЈ112m.

However, should anyone think the group has emerged from the financial storm, Ashtead is flagging up a warning that things are currently getting worse and even the board’s profit estimates for the current year (2009/10) are in need of trimming back further.

The trading update pointed out: “Rental rate deterioration has been greater than anticipated in recent months due to the weak economy and a harsh winter, leading to a year-on-year decline in group fourth quarter rental revenues at constant exchange rates of 24%.

“The cost reduction measures originally announced with our half year results last December are now substantially complete. These comprised the closure of underperforming rental stores, the disposal of rental equipment made surplus by the decline in rental demand and headcount reductions.

“The final cost reductions significantly exceed our original target and mean that, across the group, our current annualised local currency cost base is now around (£100m) lower than it was last summer.

“The one-time exceptional charge incurred in delivering these savings, much of which is non-cash, is around £75m. Including the proceeds realised from the sale of the surplus equipment, the programme has generated a net cash inflow of around £40m.

“Extrapolation of recent rental rate and revenue trends suggests that profits in fiscal 2009/10 are likely to fall below the board's earlier expectation.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cement plant campaigner faces £88,000 legal bill

The woman who campaigned against emissions from Cemex's Rugby cement plant is facing an ВЈ88,000 legal bill.

Lilian Pallikaropoulis challenged the Environment Agency over a decision to allow the Cemex factory to increase the amount of tyres burnt for fuel in 2007, arguing that people's health would be affected by emissions from the plant.

However, she failed in a judicial review to get the decision overturned, and will now have to pay ВЈ32,000 in court costs and ВЈ56,000 to the Environment Agency.

Pallikaropoulis said she had already paid out ВЈ70,000 to cover her own legal costs, and may have to remortgage her house, reported BBC Warwickshire.

However, she said planned to fight on, and was thinking of taking the case to the European Court of Justice.


Cement plant campaigner faces £88,000 legal bill


Pallikaropoulis said: "This has been rather daunting because I was only representing the people of Rugby. It was a public interest case and many people in Rugby are concerned."  

A spokeswoman for Cemex said that "certain emissions had reduced" when tyres were used as fuel at the plant. According to a trial carried out by Cemex, the index used to measure emssions from the main stack improved by 33% after increasing the use of tyres from three to six tonnes per hour. This include a reduction in emissions of nitrogen oxides by 26%.

More redundancies loom at Bovis Lend Lease

Bovis Lend Lease employees are preparing for redundancies after the firm announced a major restructuring this week to take it through the "desert" of the recession.

In a letter to staff, seen by CJ, Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) chief executive Nick Pollard outlined a strategy to cut costs and increase profits. The restructuring will see existing divisions streamlined,  BLL's procurment processes improved and  new markets targeted in the industrial, technology and waste sectors.
Pollard said "tough decisions" had been made in order to increase BLL's efficiency and competitiveness "as quickly as possible."

Under the restructuring Nick Saclley, as head of Lend Lease Project Management (LLPM), will spearhead a campaign to improve the firm's bidding rates, with particular focus on PFI. Saclley will also develop "closer partnership" with Catalyst Lend Lease, Vita Lend Lease, and Lend Lease Retail and Communities.


More redundancies loom at Bovis Lend Lease


Peter Varga, operations head at BLL will head up procurement and planning as part of the same move to improve the firm's bidding hit rate.

Meanwhile Paul Johnson, the chief commercial officer, who is leaving this month to join Apollo, will not be replaced. His role will be divided between the chief financial officer and various BLL directors.

A new division known as BLL Consulting, headed by David Sutton, will be created from a merger of the consulting, engineering and project management units from BLL's technology division and Lend Lease Projects. As part of the merger the Elstead office will be closed in August and staff relocated to Harrow. BLL Consulting will target the waste, technology and industrial sectors.
However redundancies are expected. Pollard said: "I realise that this announcement may create some uncertainty for those most directly involved, and I have committed that we will manage those circumstances in an open, fair and timely manner."

Pollard told staff the restructuring would help take the firm "through the “desert” of the economic recession" as well as putting the business "ahead of the UK economic recovery."

Bidding starts for £400m Housing Kickstart fund

Housebuilders and developers began bidding for a slice of a  ВЈ400m Government fund today, aimed at kickstarting stalled housing projects.

Firms can bid for a share of the fund so long as their stalled schemes meet strict Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) criteria. The ВЈ400m Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme, which was announced in the Budget, has a brief to unlock housing schemes that fell prey to the credit crisis. However only schemes that start on site within the financial year 2009/10 will be eligible. They must also be high quality housing projects that include a mix of tenures. The initiative is expected to deliver up to 9,000 new homes.

Funding will be open to private sector developers as well as public sector housing organisations. Under the deal the HCA will look to recovering its imvestment and a a share in any profits from rising house prices once the market imprioves.

The bidding deadline is June 8 2009 with successful bidders announced in July.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Skanska UK - no drop in turnover expected in 2009

Skanska’s UK construction turnover in 2009 will match the 2008 figure reports chief executive Mats Williamson.

He adds that Skanska UK has secured ВЈ550-worth of new work in the past four months.
The latest information comes on top of news that in the first quarter of 2009, Williamson led the business back into profit with a margin of 1.7%.

Skanska's 2008 annual results show a loss of ВЈ43m on a turnover of ВЈ1.5bn.

“I’m happy we are back in the black,” said Williamson, “and hoping we are able to deliver the profit predicted in the full year.

“The market is tough but we have already secured new work. I hope we will have secured the M25 project during Q2 – we are working towards financial close.”


Skanska UK - no drop in turnover expected in 2009


Globally, Skanska anticipates a 10% drop in construction turnover during 2009 as compared with the previous year.

The UK is exempt from that situation. “That’s because Skanska in its home market is a different business model,” said Williamson. “Here in the UK we are move involved with major projects and our turnover this year will be the same as 2008.”

He reported a tightening of margins, however.

Asked about Skanska UK’s supply chains, Williamson said: “Yes we are worried and we have had some [subcontractors] go bust but we are working to have a plan to mitigate the knock-on effect to us if that happens.

“We try to follow our payment terms as agreed and the feed-back from some is that they think Skanska is one of the best to work for.”

Skanska UK operates in several construction market sectors. The drop in demand from commercial clients has been “tough” and there have been redundancies as a result.

“Civils is stronger and we’ve been able to achieve some internal transfers,” said Williamson.

Construction SME survey finds late payment to be biggest worry

A survey has found that 52% of construction SMEs are worried about late payment issues.

The 60 SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the survey had turnovers of less than ВЈ15m. The questions were collected and analysed independently by Ciao Surveys for Lloyds TSB.

Other construction sector worries were:

rising cost of raw materials – 47% retaining current customers – 43% risk of suppliers failing – 30%

The verdict from 59% of construction bosses who replied was that they would like guidance on planning for a prolonged downturn and ensuring funding throughout the cycle…. the latter comes as little surprise given then way that banks have distanced themselves from the construction sector over the past nine months.


Construction SME survey finds late payment to be biggest worry


That said, Lloyds TSB Commercial has launched an online guidance service, firmed up its face-to-face expert advice and has launched a series of 120 nationwide advice seminars.

Actions taken by the construction firms in the survey to combat concerns and reduce their exposure to the downturn include:

40% have reduced staff numbers or have cut their hours 35% have increased advertising activity 33% have cut the price of services and/or goods 22% have extended the time they’ve taken to pay suppliers

Other details to emerge show that:

32% plan to implement a pay freeze over the next 12 months 23% intend to cut the price of services.

Lloyds TSB introduced a small business charter last year and the main promises that the bank makes are:

to pass on future base rate cuts in 2009 not to switch to charging LIBOR  (the London inter-bank overnight borrowing rate) agreeing to “any reasonable request” for short-term finance not changing the price or availability of overdrafts during the period of a customer’s agreement, typically 12 months as long as their accounts are maintained within agreed limits.

ABS wins KPMG office scheme

ABS London has won a ВЈ2.75m deal to provide mechanical and electrical services in a new office development for KPMG in Birmingham.

The firm secured the work with main contractor Como Group after working in partnership with it on a Burberry project in Westminster and Eyot Gardens in Hammersmith, London.

At the 118 square foot office space in Birmingham’s financial district ABS is installing 4-Pipe, fancoils, BMS controls, ventilation, public health and sprinkler systems.

Managing director Tony Smith said: “This contract win represents an important stage in the development of ABS - with yet another high profile project endorsing our capability to work to the very highest of standards and demonstrating our national presence within the UK.

"We are also delighted to work in partnership again with our colleagues at Como.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Skanska UK construction back in profit with 1.7% margin

Skanska’s UK construction activity was in profit in the first quarter of 2009, generating a profit margin of 1.7%.

The figure represents a big improvement on the first three months of 2008 when Skanska UK construction struggled with the burden with a negative profit margin of -6.4%.

Much of that woe was a result of taking ВЈ27m of project write-downs onto its books.

Globally, Skanska’s construction operations delivered a much better contribution in Q1 with an operating profit of £61m (comparable figure in 2008: £40m).

But much of this bonus was wiped away by the group’s infrastructure development operation which ran up a loss of £5m (comparable figure in 2008: profit of £48m).

Skanska group’s turnover in Q1 was little changed at £2.6bn and its forward orderbook stands at £12bn. Skanska’s overall profit in the three months slid from a previous figure of £73m to a lower level of £36m.


Skanska UK construction back in profit with 1.7% margin


The groupвЂs verdict on its global construction activities in the first quarter of 2009 says: “In all our markets, demand for building construction is continuing to weaken, both in residential and other private construction.

“Requests for new projects from private customers remain low.

“Civil construction markets, where the public sector represents a higher proportion of total volume, have also been adversely affected because these customers foresee declining tax revenue.

“The large government stimulus packages that have been announced are expected to eventually have a positive impact on civil construction markets, especially in the US.

“In the short-term, however, their effect on order booking has been the opposite, because already approved projects are being held back while waiting the possibility of obtaining government stimulus funds.”

Bob Crow to join Olympic protest

Rail union leader Bob Crow was due to join protesting construction workers at the gates of the 2012 Olympic site in Stratford, east London this morning.

RMT general secretary Crow will join activists from Unite and the GMB in a protest over pay and working conditions and the alleged exploitation of overseas workers.

Protesters from the recent wave of disputes against the exploitation of foreign labour at UK oil refineries were due to join fellow construction workers outside the Olympic site

Crow said: "The anger amongst workers over the race to the bottom on jobs, pay and working conditions by companies exploiting the recession and the hiring and firing of overseas workers is now turning into a national fightback. That’s why I will be joining with our colleagues from the construction industry on the gates of the Olympic site in Stratford on Wednesday morning to show full support and solidarity."


Bob Crow to join Olympic protest


Demonstrators are planning to march on Parliament after the Olympic protest.

One union source said: "There's a lot of support for this out there and we are expecting the protest to be a bit lively."

An ODA spokesperson said: "We are committed to fair employment standards and positive industrial relations on the Olympic Park. There are high levels of direct employment on the site and an agreement with construction unions includes recognition of national working rule agreements, training and local employment."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ardmore to restart work on Greenwich Peninsula scheme

Insiders say that work is about to re-start on a ВЈ34m key scheme on London's largest single regeneration project - the ВЈ5bn Greenwich Peninsula deal.

Ardmore Construction had reached ground floor slab level on the first phase of the site's housing plan when work stopped about a year ago because of the anticipated severity of the looming economic depression.

But it is now understood that Ardmore is likely to restart work for client Bellway by the end of July or the start of August this year.

The job, initially valued at around ВЈ34m, will kickstart the site's housing programme in which 10,000 homes are planned over the next 15 years.

Ardmore's contract involves 229 riverside flats and initially weighed in at ВЈ34m.

A source claimed: "Ardmore will be asked to reprice the job, rather than it being re-tendered. But it is likely that the firm will now have to drop its price significantly - perhaps to the ВЈ30m mark."

£500m private housing fund to kickstart housebuilding sector

A  ВЈ500m  investment fund to buy up and build hundreds of new homes for private rental is on the cards.

The Government’s housing and regeneration arm, the Homes and Communities Agency, is looking for private investors to put up an initial investment of ВЈ500m. This would be used to buy up stalled housing schemes and to commission new housing schemes aimed at the private rental sector.

The HCA’s Private Rented Sector Initiative (PRSI) wants to broker the creation of a U.K property investment market for private rental, modelled on similar markets in Australia and the U.S. It is aimed at pension funds and overseas property investors looking for long term stable investment vehicles.


£500m private housing fund to kickstart housebuilding sector


Funders would recoup their investment through rental returns and potentially through rising property prices over the long term.
Sir Bob Kerslake, HCA chief executive, said he believed the time was right to work up the initiative with the market. He said: "“To date, achieving scale has been one of the main barriers to attracting institutional investors into the housing sector.

"We believe there is an opportunity now for the HCA to work with developers and housebuilders to offer a pipeline of projects for the PRSI, which could result in a positive outcome for all stakeholders.”

The HCA is hoping to broker the creation of the property investment fund with an intial capitalisation value of ВЈ500m by June.

CECA welcomes damning Treasury bank report

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) has welcomed a report by the Treasury select committee condemning the way banks are doing business with small businesses in the wake of the recession.

Today’s 129-page report, called Banking Crisis: dealing with the failure of the UK banks, said banks had not acted quickly enough to free up funds for firms.

The committee, which is chaired by Labour MP John McFall, said: “We are very concerned about the availability and terms of credit to the small business sector.

“We regret the reports of sharp increases in bank charges and arrangement fees which can often be more damaging to business than higher interest rates.”

But it reserved most ire for the way banks have ridden roughshod over the needs of their customers. It said: “We deplore the behaviour of a number of those banks who have received so much public money and behaved in such an insensitive manner.”


CECA welcomes damning Treasury bank report


CECA director Rosemary Beales said: “We know that the schemes designed to get the banks lending are not working well enough.”

A survey by the group last month revealed that close to 50% of small and medium-size civils firms had experienced difficulty getting hold of financial support from their banks while 58% said their banking costs had risen.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

JCB denies refusing wage subsidy as more jobs go

JCB has denied suggestions that it refused a wage subsidy for some workers at its transmission factory in Wrexham where it is making a further 17 people redundant.

Company spokesman John Kavanagh said: “We looked into the scheme but decided it wasn’t a practical option. The £2,000 per person scheme introduced by the Welsh Assembly is not an annual payment but a one-off and is limited to 100 workers – we have 400.

“It also comes with a training dimension and as the Wrexham plant is a just-in-time supplier to our factories in Rocester there would have been a knock-on impact for the English factories, where no-such scheme exists.”

JCB has called for a broader scheme to be made available to all UK companies as seen in parts of Europe. The company said that its own short-time working arrangement has actually saved 283 of the 684 jobs losses identified in January.

Top five construction tenders - 1 May

This week's top 5 construction tenders include an ВЈ80m-ВЈ100m highways construction job to build 14km of dual carriageway, four five-year trade package frameworks for TfL totalling ВЈ65m-ВЈ100m, and a ВЈ26m office development in Stafford. The details are only a summary of what is available, for the full OJEU click on the link.

Coleraine: Highways construction

Value: ВЈ80m-ВЈ100mThe Department for Regional Development, based in Coleraine in Northern Ireland, is advertising for a contractor to provide construction, foundation and surface works on a 14km stretch of dual carriageway. The road will run from Hillhead Road to Ballyrickard Road on the A8 transport corridor between Belfast and Larne.Deadline: 3 JuneADVERTISEMENT

Top five construction tenders - 1 May


London: Station enhancements

Value: ВЈ65m-ВЈ100mTransport for London is seeking contractors for four five-year trade package frameworks to work on its station enhancement projects. The four lots are: Mechanical (ВЈ15m-ВЈ25m); Fire Systems (ВЈ15m-ВЈ20m); Tiling (ВЈ10m-ВЈ20m); Site Facilities (ВЈ25m-ВЈ35m). TfL is looking for up to six framework suppliers for each lot.Deadline: 26 May

Stafford: Office blocks

Value: ВЈ26mStoford Developments, based in Birmingham, is looking for a contractor to build two buildings with 12,500m2 of office space at Tipping St, Stafford. The ВЈ22m construction works will be procured under a single stage design and build route. The work also includes a ВЈ4m fit-out, 1,100m2 of retail space, pedestrian area, landscaping and roads infrastructure. The buildings must meet a BREEAM 2008 for offices "Excellent" rating.Deadline: 10 August

Liverpool: Regeneration framework

Value: ВЈ10mLiverpool City Council is advertising for contractors to join a four-year framework for upgrading public realm and highways in and around Liverpool city centre. The works are part of the continued regeneration of Liverpool and will be divided into around 10 projects in defined areas around the city.Deadline: 26 May

Dunfermline: Primary school

Value: ВЈ9mFife Council is looking to invite five contractors to tender for the design and build of a new primary school in South Fod West, serving eastern Dunfermline. The winning contractor will also provice all associated infrastructure and external works. The floor area of the complete building will be 4,000m2 and the site will include sporting facilities and soft landing, as well as pedestrian and vehicle access.Deadline: 1 June

Wolseley cuts 250 jobs in Lancs and Oxfordshire

Plumbing giant Wolseley is axing more than 250 jobs at two sites in Lancashire and Oxfordshire.

The bulk of the losses will be made at its distribution centre in Chorley with 133 jobs going when the lease on the building expires this August.

And it is also closing a distribution centre in Didcot with the loss of 76 jobs. Both sites have begun a 90-day consultation for affected staff.

UK managing director Rob Marchbank blamed the recession for the cuts and added: “Any job losses are regrettable, however there is a need to adjust our business to the prevailing market conditions.”