The group investment director at Wates on how he feels the economic recovery will look for 2014.

Steve Beechey

How sustainable do you believe the economic recovery to be?

It does look very positive, although the world economy is sensitive. Housing is driving our economy, and there’s a lot of potential in the commercial sector, in particular the South-east. The backdrop is that we’ll see more projects coming into market.

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for your business next year? Where is growth going to come from?

The core sectors, including a significant number of social housing schemes, some big commercial jobs and then there are schools, which will put us in good stead. We’ve actually picked up some industrial work on large factories too.

What do you think the greatest danger to your business will be in 2014?

Price rises in the supply chain. There’s a risk of more cost inflation within the industry, such as with labour materials; this is already having an effect on housing projects in the South-east.

Then there’s sensitivity around the availability of funding. If you see something change in Europe for instance, you worry about a knee-jerk reaction. A lot of funding may be withdrawn.

What do you think the construction industry could do to help itself in 2014?

It needs to drive efficiencies. BIM needs to be promoted as there are big efficiency savings there – we need to make it work. I also think the industry needs to continue to improve the way that it manages the supply chain. And obviously we should always be improving working conditions and health and safety.

What single realistic policy change from the government would make the biggest difference to your business next year?

I’d have to say the government basically making a commitment on policy change for school funding and social housing, dramatically increasing it.

Steve Beechey is group investment director at Wates