Corus sponsored this category, which sees the big boys fighting it out over prisons, sporting venues, military schools, hospitals and high-rise homes. The winner was a firm particularly beloved of English cricket fans …


Taylor Woodrow

According to one of Taylor Woodrow's numerous PFI clients, the firm has "brought the fun back into projects, which is sadly lacking in the main in our industry". The concepts of fun and PFI are not easily linked, so the praise must surely be testament to the extent of Taylor Woodrow's achievement. The firm has developed a formidable reputation for delivering projects on time: its work on the Heart and Lung Centre at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, was so on-the-money that the first operation was carried out on the exact date set before the Taywood's contract was awarded. And cricket fans will be grateful that the firm is more successful on sporting contracts than a certain Australian rival: the Brit Oval stand for Surrey County Cricket club was completed in time for that thrilling fifth Ashes test.

Taylor Woodrow’s stand at the Brit Oval was complete in time for England’s Ashes victory

Taylor Woodrow’s stand at the Brit Oval was complete in time for England’s Ashes victory

Runners up

Carillion Building

In the past year Carillion Building has doubled its operating profit to £8.7m from £4.1m, thanks largely to prestigious high-rise residential schemes for clients including George Wimpey and Countryside Properties. Carillion's progress is not only financial, however. In October 2004 the firm launched "Target Zero", a safety campaign aimed at eliminating accidents by 2010. A year into the scheme, the company has already cut its accident frequency rate in half.

Costain Group

"Costain has some outstanding managers." This client's praise of the talent at Costain, last year's major contractor of the year, helps explain how the firm has secured its highest-ever forward order book, which currently stands at £1.8bn. The achievement is helped by the fact that Costain has enjoyed a 17% rise in repeat business. One satisfied client is Dutch developer ING, which with the contractor's help has finally begun work on the long-awaited PalaceXchange scheme to redevelop Enfield town centre.

Interserve Project Services

According to one of its clients, Interserve delivers projects "to a very high standard with no nasty surprises or battles." This non-confrontational attitude towards its customers is a wise move by Interserve, particularly given that the firm's key project over the past year was a PFI scheme for the Ministry of Defence. The MoD will use the scheme, a sixth-form college at Loughborough, to train the military leaders of the future. Construction on the prestigious building was completed in time to meet the first intake of students in September.

Kier Group

Kier enjoyed a 15% rise in turnover during 2004/05, with profits rising 10% to a massive £20.7m. The firm's board may be pleased with its success, but the inmates of British prisons will be rather less enamoured with the company's advances. As part of its ongoing relationship with HM Prison Service, Kier has helped develop a precast concrete solution to the construction of prison accommodation; enabling the construction of a high security environment without the need for external scaffolding around existing buildings. So prisoners attempting to escape will be back to tying bedsheets together for a while.


Wates' UK construction profit soared by a staggering 144% over the past year, up to £10.1m from £4.1m in 2004. Long-term client relationships lie at the heart of the contractor's strategy: 67% of the firm's business is with repeat customers, and Wates aims to increase this to 90% by 2010. One such happy marriage is the firm's partnership with Birmingham council. Under the Birmingham Construction Partnership, which includes the council, Wates, Thomas Vale and Tomlinson, 62% of projects to date have been completed within 5% of target cost - double the national average.