B&ES members report rise in workload and turnover in survey

B&ES, State of trade survey

Nearly half the members of the Building & Engineering Services Association who responded to the association’s latest state-of trade survey experienced increases in workload and turnover during the second half of last year. However, there were indications of a modest slowdown approaching, with the rate of growth falling since similar research six months earlier.

The latest survey also showed that tender prices have remained largely static. Labour and material costs both rose, though at a slower rate than previously.

The survey covered the period June to December 2014 and revealed a positive ‘net optimism measure’ of +39%, some way behind the +49% recorded for the first six months of 2014, but ahead of the +35% reported for the same period in 2013.

The percentage of respondents which felt more optimistic about their future prospects ranged from +28% in London to +80% in Wales.

Businesses of all sizes and specialisms enjoyed an increase in turnover, with the north west of England reporting the greatest improvement.

Over a third of respondents claimed to be employing more people than six months earlier, while over half reported no change in their direct employment levels.

The principal factors adversely affecting business growth were late payment, poor margins, increases in labour and material costs and shills shortages.

The engagement of members with BIM (building information modelling) fell from 35% of respondents handling projects that involved BIM to 26%.

Andy Sneyd, president of B&ES, acknowledged that while far from generating doom and gloom, the latest survey painted a slightly less-bright picture than might have been expected. He said, ‘Certainly, anecdotal evidence provided by my fellow members in recent times has given the impression that the upturn in UK construction is rather more sustained than these figures suggest.’

But he added that conditions were evidently improving, albeit at a slower rate than previously, and there remained every reason to believe that a robust recovery was on the way.

The research was undertaken by independent consultant Lychgate Projects. A full report can be found on the B&ES web site.

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