Almost half of the members of the Building & Engineering Services Association responding to its state of trade survey have experienced an increase in workload and turnover during the second half of 2014.
However, there are indications of a modest slowdown approaching, in that the rate of growth had declined since similar research was carried out among the Association’s membership just six months ago. Tender prices, too, appear to have remained largely static, while labour costs continued to rise – as did materials costs, although at a slower rate than previously.
The survey, which covers the period from June to December 2014, revealed a positive ‘net optimism measure’ of 39 percent, some way behind the 49 percent recorded for the first six months of 2014, but ahead of the 35 percent reported for the same period in 2013.
Regionally, the percentage of respondents who felt more optimistic about their future prospects ranged from 28 percent in London and the South East to 80 percent in Wales.
Pretty well all sizes of business – and all specialisms – were revealed to have enjoyed a turnover increase, an experience which was also spread fairly evenly across the UK, with the North West of England reporting the greatest improvement. However, order books in the domestic sector remained more or less static.
Predictably, late payment, poor margins, increases in labour and materials costs and skills shortages were cited as the principal factors adversely affecting business growth.
Commenting on the research findings, B&ES president Andy Sneyd acknowledged that – while far from generating doom and gloom – they painted a slightly less bright picture than might have been expected.
“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,” said the president.