As PFI is increasingly used for public schemes, so contractors specialising in this sector are coming to the fore. Here are three that excelled in their field, with one firm a particular stand-out … Sponsored by Weber Building Solutions



Whether you've won a gold star for your maths homework, or been a very naughty boy or girl, chances are you've come across the work of Interserve. The 2006 PFI contractor of the year specialises in schools - 33 built in the past five years from Sheffield to Southampton - and prisons - three HMPs and one detention centre up and running, plus preferred bidder status for Addiewell jail. Its portfolio also covers health, defence and government buildings and has a total capital value of £1.8bn. Despite its interest in discipline, though, Interserve is really a big softie. At Welbeck - the £114m defence sixth-form college designed, built and managed for the Ministry of Defence by an Interserve-led consortium - it is even responsible for student welfare. Group hug, everyone.

One of Interserve’s specialisms is PFI schools – the company has built 33 over the past five years

One of Interserve’s specialisms is PFI schools – the company has built 33 over the past five years

Runners up


Costain is a newcomer to the education PFI sector, but in two years it has completed projects in Ealing (£45m capital value) and Kent (£90m) and been named preferred bidder for Bradford's £70m Building Schools for the Future pathfinder. It has more experience in healthcare PFI - King's College and Kingston hospitals, among others - which is why it is the Department of Health's go-to guy on the first "batched PFI": the £90m 3Shires project where its client will be three NHS trusts. All this has helped the PFI division to start projects worth a total of £188m last year and make a forecast turnover of £70m, up from a mere £25m in 2003.


2005's winner is back on the shortlist, thanks to sterling work in healthcare and education. Last year, Skanska completed two of the largest secondary schools in the country at Bexleyheath and Welling, and it did it fast: just 17 months after the £36m deal was closed. That's the kind of performance that led it becoming preferred bidder on the £113m Building Schools for the Future scheme in Bristol. It also has that status on Britain's biggest hospital PFI: the £1bn Bart's and the London project. That's not the only healthcare project on Skanska's roster: the £333m Coventry hospital, £265m Central Nottinghamshire hospitals and £334m Derby hospital are all progressing nicely.