Business barometer Social housing shores up balance sheets as the commercial sector struggles

June was another solid month for those working in the less sexy parts of the industry. Kier finished in top spot thanks to wins in the social housing and water sectors; a £55m facilities management deal for Sheffield council and a £75m contract for United Utilities, respectively. Not that glamour’s important in the market at the moment.

Speaking after a quietly confident trading update on Monday, John Dodds, the contractor’s chief executive, said: “The big question is which government will be in and what they’ll do about spending. We’re comfortable with our position but there is a background of uncertainty.”

As he is sitting on a £90m pile of cash and has a £600m social housing maintenance deal for North Tyneside council in the bag, Dodds is certainly more comfortable than most.

Willmott Dixon finished in second place and probably would not mind being called dull either. Chief executive John Frankiewicz recently joked: “Boring is the new sexy”. In its results last week, however, it conceded that it may have gone too far down that route and flagged up retail, leisure and PFI as exciting sectors on the horizon.

Its wins included a £24.3m deal for Coulsdon college in south London and the £31.8m contract for Wembley Park Academy.

In total, £1.31bn of work was won by the top 30 contractors last month, less than £300m of it in the commercial arena. The bigger commercial wins included a £42.8m Heathrow Hilton hotel deal for Sisk and a £19.5m deal for Tesco won by West Yorkshire based Caddick Construction.

Rok edged Laing O’Rourke into fourth spot with wins that included a £66m deal for Moat Housing Association and a £20m social housing deal in Newcastle upon Tyne. Surely only chief executive and instinctive marketeer Garvis Snook could make those sound sexy.

Skanska was top of the list that included infrastructure thanks to the massive £2.5bn M25 widening deal it won in conjunction with Balfour Beatty and Atkins.