This week, Morgan Sindall has reasons to be perky, as do some bats hanging around in Middleton Quarry – Donald Trump, though, could soon be flying off the handle, and Richard Rogers sees red

Hansom HT

Comparisons are odious

While Carillion has been dominating the news in recent weeks with all its problems, there is some good news from Morgan Sindall – which not so long ago was in a bit of a pickle itself. Now the firm, which next month will kick off the half-year reporting season among contractors, says trading for the period is substantially ahead of expectations with pre-tax profit set to be up 45%. I wonder what it is doing right? Carillion would like to know, I’m sure. Anyway, Cenkos analyst Kevin Cammack can barely contain his excitement. In a note, he says: “Simply, construction and fit-out are generating cash quicker than [Morgan Sindall] can invest it into partnership housing or regeneration assets.” How the suits at Carillion must be looking on through gritted teeth.

Be it ever so humble

One of my hacks was surprised to be sent an email from something called Basel Shows, a website promoting the Swiss town of the same name, which lauded the exploits of one of their own – eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. Under the headline “Roger Federer’s houses” – I assume the only reason why we got this guff – we learn that the tennis player is a “very simple person” and while he “doesn’t abdicate the basic luxuries” – which include owning a private jet to ferry him to tournaments around the globe – the star, who is number four in Forbes’ list of 2017’s highest-paid athletes with $64m in earnings, “prefers to dine at simple restaurants and waits in line like [any member of the] general public”. How very Swiss.

Door envy

It is now customary for developers to put a load of facts and figures on the hoardings that surround whatever it is they’re building. The eye of one of my hacks was caught by the info that was plastered across the hoardings at One Blackfriars, the 50-storey building being built by Multiplex. Among the usual figures about the number of panes of glass being used – 9,135, if you’re asking – and the info about how many millions of working hours it will take to complete – 8 million – was this titbit: “The development will have 2,500 doors: six times as many as the White House.” Given the fuss he made over the numbers at his inauguration, President Trump will surely be stepping in to denounce the claim as “fake news”.

Bare necessities

Staff at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners were this week faced with their annual dilemma of what to wear on their feet at the birthday bash of Richard Rogers. The Labour peer turned 84 on Wednesday and traditionally holds a celebration to mark the occasion at his Chelsea home. But he has a strict no shoes policy inside his house - something to do with the acres of polished flooring. It usually means no socks as well, given the risk of dozens of the firm’s 200 staff, who all get an invite, tumbling over. It sounds like a health and safety nightmare. Surely the boss can provide flip flops?

Red carpet treatment

Still with the Cheesegrater architect, the practice has banned red wine and chocolate from staff functions. It seems too many were spilling both onto the firm’s (green) carpet at its 14th-floor office at the Cheesegrater on 122 Leadenhall Street. I understand the firm was getting a little bit miffed at the cleaning bill – well, you can imagine how many square metres of carpet that office has. It’s beer and white wine only from now on. Red wine is to be entrusted to outsiders only – so if they spill anything, presumably that’s ok …

Middleton Quarry


Building types can be a caring lot. Construction services group NWH Group has saved the day for a bunch of sleepy bats by ensuring that an old mine it had acquired remains a roosting site for the little blighters. Three species – the brown long-eared bat, Natterer’s bat and Daubenton’s bat – apparently fly 50km to hang upside down in the mine, which forms part of the Middleton Quarry, just outside Edinburgh. NWH had bought the quarry with a view to reinstating it to grass and woodland and a planning condition required that the bats’ home be protected. The firm was happy to oblige, apparently. Everybody say “Ahhhh”. Or “To the batcave!”