This table tells two main stories. First, that the large specialists still make the fattest margins. Steel constructor Severfield-Rowen reported 6.4% and groundwork specialist Keller got a handsome 6.2%. East Anglian contractor Carter also made an impressive 4.4% return, and concrete firm O'Rourke managed 3.6%. Second, it shows that most contractors are still hovering in the 0.5-2% zone, well short of the magic 3% that is seen as a decent return.

The top of this table should be taken with a pinch of salt. Because of the way some companies present their results, it is difficult to compare like with like. For instance, rail maintenance company First Engineering tops the chart with a princely 12.4% margin because it does not split out its civils work from its rail maintenance. Rydon and Henry Boot also feature highly because their figures include housebuilding and property along with contracting.