Firm takes advantage of rivals’ falling workloads despite only increasing wins by £25m

Balfour Beatty clawed its way to the top of the contractors’ league table this month not by bagging any huge projects, but by edging out rivals whose workload fell

It won first place in all three contractors’ tables this month, yet did not figure in Barometer’s list of large project wins and at £172m scooped just £25.5m more this month than in February.

Balfour’s showing is a far cry from the £627m worth of work it won in March 2010, when its cumulative yearly total was also vastly higher, standing at £7.3bn.
Wates, the top contractor in February, saw its performance slip from £160m to £93m, but still picked up the £29m John Roan School project for Greenwich council in London.

There still seems to be life in the education sector, with Lend Lease picking up a £70m schools project for Wandsworth council.

Worryingly, for the industry, most of the large project wins were from the public sector - for example, John Sisk’s £20.4m appointment on four temporary shooting ranges for the Olympic Delivery Authority.

The value of non-civils projects actually fell compared with last month, dropping from £921m to £867m.

But, significantly, when civils projects are factored in, the total workload rose, from £946m to £994m, with Balfour Beatty winning £58.5m of the civils work, while Kier picked up £40.5m of civils work to make it second in the table.

This echoes Experian data released last week that predicted infrastructure work would be one of the few parts of construction to grow this year, albeit by a miserly 1%.

This is backed up by the fact that once again Crossrail is by some way the largest client this month.

Curiously, there are almost as many jobs being won now compared with last year, but they are simply much smaller. Average project values for the top 30 contractors have fallen over the last 12 months from £5.4m to £3.8m.