Two things really stand out this month.
Firstly, the top four contractors on our monthly Contracts League table are names we’ve never seen before. They’re all joint ventures and between them they’ve mopped up over £6bn-worth of work on the eagerly-anticipated HS2 project, propelling the monthly tally of new contract awards to hitherto unimagined heights.
The second stand-out feature is the picture painted by our annual round-up of the UK’s Top 100 contractors. No HS2 JVs here; just the usual suspects. But what’s this? They’re losing money! Profitability has fallen by more than 4%; and the 10 biggest contractors averaged a pre-tax loss of around £8m.
HS2 is a one-off: it doesn’t reflect the underlying trajectory of the industry. The long-term trend is what matters, and this year’s widespread decline in profitability does not bode well.