Tony Poole takes the temperature of the industry at this week’s Little Britain regatta

Tony Poole

The Little Britain Challenge Cup race gets under way today and many came to the Isle of Wight yesterday for the test race or early meet and greets last night.

Gauging the industry temperature from those already here, the mood is certainly upbeat – lots of tenders, lots of bidding and even lots of projects being awarded. There is also, I’m delighted to say, a good deal of positivity about the regions where there’s more investment and activity – Wales, the north and Scotland – not just London. So that’s the great news.

However, while everyone agrees it’s busy, there is concern about the margins being achieved. They’re still stuck at recession levels say many and it’s hard to bring them back up. Clients, not surprisingly, prefer to pay less and cost is still the deciding factor on many projects. This is a challenge for recovering businesses that need profit to reinvest and sustain their growth.  Against a backdrop of rising construction costs, the industry will have to stand together and stand firm to allow margins to return to enable companies to invest again.

There are a few Scots here too and the pending referendum inevitably comes into conversation. A mixture of trepidation, inevitability (either way) and deflection through humour seems the order of the day so far.

But it’s just day one here so let’s see the day brings. Many more industry professionals arrive today – if you’re interested in who’s here, the Regatta Guide is now available - and it’s the champagne reception tonight, so I’ll be back with more news from Little Britain tomorrow.

Tony Poole is partner at Sheppard Robson and chairman of the Little Britain Challenge Cup