Business in consultancy and engineering grows above previous expectations
Business in consultancy and engineering in the UK is continuing to grow, according to the latest state-of-business report from the Association for Consultancy & Engineering. The report shows that 74% of firms are seeing workload grow during 2007, with over half seeing work grow by more than 5% — an increase on the previous year. The strongest performing sectors are private housing and private offices, and the least profitable sectors are other power, telecoms and aviation. The expected change in workload for the whole of 2007 is outstripping the forecasts for the year in the 2006 report. 82% of firms now expect their workload to have grown in 2007, compared with 63% expecting growth at the time of the previous survey. This report is now in its third year and details the markets in which the consultancy and engineering profession works — broken down by business size, how business is procured and won and how services are provided in the UK and internationally. It analyses trends in workloads and performance in specific sectors and details the expansion of the UK businesses into overseas markets. Key results in the report show that the largest and most profitable sector of operation for consultancy and engineering firms continues to be private housing, with 70% of firms working in this sector — down slightly from 74% last year. This sector accounts for 19% of consultancy and engineering output. The second most profitable work sector is private offices, with 69% of firms working in this area — a shift from last year, when rail was the second most profitable sector. The proportion of industry turnover generated through work in international markets has increased dramatically in the last year — up from 11.5% last year to 56% this year. However, part of this increase may be due to more large firms taking part in the survey, and the largest firms surveyed reported that international projects account for over a third of the overall turnover. Firms with a turnover exceeding £10 million operate consistently across most sectors. Smaller firms tend to concentrate on private-housing work and private-office developments. Most work continued to be procured through the traditional route, although the use of design-and-build contracts has grown marginally since the previous report. More than half of the work won by consultancy and engineering firms is repeat business.