Barometer: Blackburn schools win takes firm to top of construction list for first time in eight months

Balfour Beatty has reclaimed top spot in the contractors league table, boosted by the £450m Blackburn Building Schools for the Future programme. Britain’s biggest contractor was last seen at number one in the no-civils league in May 2009. In January it bagged 57 jobs worth a total of £532m. The firm continues to dominate in civils as well: its haul was £715m in this arena, including a £500m deal with United Utilities and a £100m job for Anglia Water.

Morgan Sindall, in second spot, didn’t come close despite winning 45 jobs totalling £199m, including a £63m fit-out contract won by its Overbury subsidiary in the City.

The BSF programme continued to be a mainstay for contractors; notable wins included £84.6m for Sir Robert McAlpine in Newcastle upon Tyne. Universities were also a good client: Vinci Construction bagged the £40.5m arts centre and media building for Middlesex university. This may not be the case in the next academic year, when universities will receive 15% less money.

Total work won by the top 30 firms in January rose by an encouraging 29% to £1.88bn, compared with £1.46bn the previous year; the average size of a contract was £4.9m, compared with £5.4m a year ago.

The civils sector remained a winner for the more infrastructure-focused firms. Laing O’Rourke secured a £168m job to widen the A453 in Derby for the Highways Agency, as well as a £200m job in joint venture with Imtech Process to upgrade Thames Water’s sewage treatment works at Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s Crossness plant in south London.

Morgan Sindall also secured a major civils package for Thames Water on the £400m contract to build the Lee Tunnel in east London.

Meanwhile, Gardiner & Theobald has overtaken Gleeds to enter the top five quantity surveyors and Currie & Brown UK – which has only won one project this year – has been displaced from the top 10 by Rider Levett Bucknall.