Engineering-services market survey shows continued optimism for the sector

Almost 80% of engineering-services firms reported increased or steady turnover during the first quarter of this year in a sector-wide ‘Building engineering business survey’ sponsored by Scolmore. Looking ahead to the second quarter of the year, 88% of businesses expect their turnover to increase or remain steady.

The survey is run in partnership by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Scottish electrical trade body SELECT. It received 370 responses from companies across the engineering-services sector.

The survey was completed by BESA, SELECT and ECA members in early April, prior to the General Election being announced. Members of the three trade bodies have a combined annual turnover of £11 billion, spanning building, infrastructure and maintenance activity.

BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said, ‘We should be extremely heartened by these results. We continue to live through a period of unprecedented political upheaval, yet the building-engineering-services sector remains on track. For nine out of 10 respondents to be so upbeat about their immediate business prospects in the current economic uncertain economic climate is testimony to this industry’s resilience.’

ECA CEO Steve Bratt commented, ‘These figures show that the engineering-services sector continues to power ahead, against a backdrop of enormous political volatility. New business opportunities continue to be created across our sector, notably, but certainly not exclusively, linked to energy supply and storage. We remain cautiously optimistic entering into a period of further change with the upcoming general election.’

SELECT managing director Newell McGuiness added, ‘It’s encouraging to see continued optimism on workload, given the backdrop of uncertainty which exists at present. The rise in material costs is a concern and we hope that any further increases will be kept to a minimum.’

Despite business optimism, materials prices continue to rise, with seven in 10 businesses reporting an increase, up from six in 10 during Q4 2016. Half of the firms who responded said the move to Brexit had negatively impacted on materials prices. In addition, half of companies said labour costs had risen, up from four in 10 firms in the previous quarter.

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