I appreciate the risk taken by specialist construction companies, but I fear that Peter Lewis is not looking far enough when he says specialist contractors are at “the end of the chain and bearing the full weight of the risk”

This is not strictly the case. What about the suppliers? They are also part of the supply chain and bear the risk too.

If a specialist contractor goes out of business then they will often leave their creditors with a bad debt, which typically comprises materials, overheads and profit so, in turn, it puts pressure on the suppliers and service providers either to write off the debt or try to insure against losing it, usually with difficulty, and often at high cost.

Where the specialist company does not go out of business, but has to shoulder the responsibility for the outcome of their work, then Peter’s statement is more the case, but then this is what separates the competent from the “less able”, shall we say. Survival of the fittest is a concept that we now accept, as the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin coincides with a downturn in our industry.

Darwin informed us that evolution will eventually bring about the dominance of the more successful species, but we should make sure, for the UK construction sector at least, that this is not those companies best able to exploit all of the others through bullying or abuse of position. It is the role of industry leaders to prevent some unsustainable practices from reversing our progress towards integrated teams and collaborative working.

Chris Slezakowski, National Accounts Director, SIG