Deciding which firms qualify as the UK’s Top 100 construction companies is not an exact science. Many companies – especially the larger ones – have fingers in so many pies that it’s not always easy to separate out the activities that can really be called ‘construction’. Others are certainly building firms, but either generate the bulk of their revenues overseas or, conversely, are foreign-owned. The contribution of such companies to the UK construction sector is often extremely difficult to quantify.
In our annual review of the Top 100, starting on page 39, we paint a picture of the current state of UK construction through an analysis of the industry’s 100 leading contractors – that is, companies that still build things and haven’t reinvented themselves as suppliers of ‘outsourced managed services’.
The drift away from the business of actual construction and towards the provision of services such as cleaning windows and emptying the bins has been a trend for many years. But how many of us realised, before disaster struck, that Carillion, which grew out of the old Tarmac Construction business, was not only building schools, but serving school dinners as well?
Ah, yes – Carillion. The collapse of the UK’s second-biggest contractor was the UK’s largest corporate failure of the year. But there were many more, further down the supply chain.
Construction’s a tough business and, despite a generally positive message emerging from this year’s TCi Top 100, it is still the UK’s worst industry sector for business failures.