Latest Office of National Statistics figures show that construction output has continued to fall and was down 2.3% in January. Comparing the quarter with the equivalent period a year ago there was a small increase of 0.6%. The largest increase was new Infrastructure (up 11%) and the largest fall was public non-housing (down 15.4%). Construction orders for the last quarter of 2011 were also down by 2.5%, the lowest level since 1980. As with output the largest growth was in Infrastructure (up 41.6%) and new Public Housing fell by 26.6%.

In the last month there have been a spate of results declared. Despite the low housing outputs, builders have performed well in 2011; Barratt (revenue up 8.6%, profit up 40.5%), Galiford Try (revenue up 30%, profit up 89%), Bovis (revenue up 22%, profit up 35%), Persimmon (revenue down 2%, profit up 55%), Taylor Wimpey (revenue up 2.2%, profit up 81%) and Crest Nicholson (revenue up 12.2%, profit up 19%) have all show dramatic
improvements. The launch this week of the government’s NewBuy scheme also promises an increase in demand from new home buyers with Barratt reporting that nearly 20,000 potential homebuyers have pre-registered their interest.

This strong peformance continues with other sectors, for contracting Balfour Beatty announced their results which showed an overall increase in profits of 22% despite a fall in construction operating profit of 16%. Construction revenue was up, although the order book was down 23%. In manufacturing Kingspan announced strong performance with revenue up 14% and profit up 24% after allowance for acquisitions. Finally, for the supplier sector Travis Perkins announced that turnover was up 6% on a like-for-like basis and profits were up 37%.

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