​Outlook positive for UK construction industry

Tuesday 15 October 2013

As the economy continues to strengthen, businesses are beginning to feel confident once again about the possibility of growth.
In the UK construction industry, for example, a number of limited companies are reporting increased order books, pipeline and profit margins. These market improvements mean that many firms are now looking for ways to expand their business - whether that means adding new locations or branching out into new sectors like power and energy.
Global advisory firm KPMG has published a new report, entitled Global Construction 2013: Ready for the Next Big Wave? It provides the results of a survey taken earlier this year, with questions directed at 165 senior leaders from engineering and construction companies in 29 countries.
The research shows that 73 per cent of companies in the UK have either a 'positive' or 'very positive' outlook on for business prospects over the next two to five years. In other regions, like the Americas and Asia-Pacific, the numbers were even higher.
Commenting on the report's findings, Richard Threlfall, the UK head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG, said that over the last few months, companies have become more optimistic and are beginning to believe that the worst of the economic crisis is behind us.
Indeed, 57 per cent of those surveyed believe that their companies would grow between one and 25 per cent this year, compared to 2012 - and the outlook is even more positive in the Americas, where 80 per cent of companies expect a similar level of growth.
"Construction companies now need to invest in growth. What is holding back the industry now is not lack of demand, but the ability of businesses to resource for it and recruit sufficient experienced staff," Mr Threlfall explained. This could certainly be good news for contractors who work in the construction industry.
He also indicated that construction firms must respond quickly to the increase in demand if they want to remain competitive: "Companies need to act now, because the industry's resurgence is already underway."
According to the survey, respondents believe there are a number of drivers for growth that will continue to affect the sector. More than half (53 per cent) of those questioned in the UK think that government infrastructure plans, global economic growth and urbanisation are to thank for the improvements.
KPMG's report also suggested that self-employed professionals in other sectors can look forward to an increase in job prospects. All UK respondents (100 per cent) of the construction survey said that they were considering expanding into the power and energy sector. Other top areas that were being considered for expansion included rail (83 per cent), industrial (33 per cent) and water-related (17 per cent).
Alistair Buchanan, chairman KPMG power and utilities, pointed out that inward investment for transmission network and gas distribution companies is expected to reach £40 billion - and at least 5,000 jobs are expected to be created.
"This is just the start; with another £30 billion on electricity distribution in 2015, the roll out of round two offshore just starting and the massive £110 billion needed in generation," he added.

By Victoria McDonnell

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