January saw value of contracts jump by over a third year-on-year in a promising start for 2012

The value of contracts awarded in January has leapt up by more than a third year-on-year, according to the Construction Products Association and Barbour ABI index.
The inflation-adjusted monthly index, which is published exclusively in Building, measures the total value of contracts awarded in the industry and is benchmarked against 100 points in January 2010.

Last month, it stood at 130 compared with 97 in January 2011. This is also a significant rise compared with the previous month, December 2011, which is now calculated at 119 points following a minor revision of the statistics.

Senior economist at the CPA Kelly Forrest told Building the figures suggested the industry had grounds for cautious optimism for the first time in months.

“This presents a very encouraging picture for the industry,” she said. “It seems there has been an upsurge across several sectors.

“Obviously this does not guarantee activity because it is possible that not all these contracts will start on site if economic conditions deteriorate or finance is withdrawn.
“It seems that clients are positioning themselves to start on site as soon as conditions are right.”

Housing and commercial offices were two of the sectors demonstrating the most dramatic growth with the latter showing a 64% rise over the past three months compared with the same period the previous year.

Meanwhile, Balfour Beatty regained the top spot in the league table of best performing contractors in January ahead of Vinci in second place and Kier in third.
Balfour, which had dropped down to position 20 in December, achieved 71 contracts worth a total of £275m.