Business barometer — PFI waste plants for Lancashire council take contractor to top of table

Bovis Lend Lease returned to the top of the contractors’ league in March, buoyed by a huge PFI deal for Lancashire council.

It is the second time that Bovis, which won £342m of work, has topped the league since the start of the year. Like Bovis’ last winning performance in January, the victory was secured through a strong performance on public sector contracts, with the firm winning a £320m PFI deal to construct and operate two waste management plants for Lancashire council.

Bovis’ nearest challenger for pole position was Rok, which won 38 contracts and leaped into second place from 17th last time. Rok’s work was mainly secured in the housing sector, with its biggest win a £240m project for Daventry council.

Another surprise performer was Essex-based contractor Lakehouse Contracts, which entered the chart in fourth place thanks to a series of big housing wins. These included a £150m scheme for the London Authority Procurement Network, and a £28m deal for the London Housing Corporation.

Overall, the table confirmed that the housing market shows no sign of slowing, despite recent interest rate rises. Housing was the strongest sector by a long way during the month, providing contractors with £922m of work: more than £200m greater than any other sector.

In total, contractors picked up £3bn of work during the period, as spending gathered pace after a steady start to the year. About £2.4bn of work was awarded in both January and February. Bovis Lend Lease’s performance was enough for it to keep its place at the top of the table when civils work was included, despite not winning any work in the sector. Morgan Sindall was lifted into the top three in this table, thanks to a £250m infrastructure win for National Grid.

Balfour Beatty, usually a strong performer when civils work is included, dropped to fourth from first, despite 57 wins. However, the setback was not enough to displace it from the top of the cumulative league.