20th October 2015

Northern Ireland’s construction industry remains fragile, experts warn

Large construction firms in Northern Ireland are struggling to remain afloat, a new study suggests. 

Northern Ireland’s construction industry remains fragile, experts warn

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Research from the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) and PwC suggests that a third of Northern Ireland’s biggest construction companies are aiming to stabilise their operations over the next 12 months, whereas only 14% are aiming to increase profits. 16% of firms are merely looking to survive the next year of business.

Additionally, the survey found that only 19% of respondents were working at full capacity – and a similar proportion were operating at less than half of their total capacity. Less than a quarter of construction companies said that their workload had increased during Q2 2015, a slight drop from the Q1 figure.

The respondents were also asked about employment figures. 24% revealed that they had increased the number of employees during the past quarter, with 19% saying they’d cut back on staff.

These results are lukewarm at best, and show that the recovery in the UK’s construction industry is not shared by Northern Ireland, whose industry’s output remains 40% below the pre-recession peak. However, the region’s housing market has shown some life, but again, there are concerns that a ‘debt overhang’ from before the recession remains, potentially causing another housing bubble.

Managing Director of the CEF John Armstrong blamed the current “political impasse” as the leading cause of the construction industry’s struggles. Armstrong calls on increased clarity from political leaders and improved communication between politicians and the industry.

PwC forecasts predict that Northern Ireland’s economic growth will remain the slowest out of the UK’s regions – another grim sign for local construction businesses.

External factors having a huge impact on every construction business. In a previous article on this blog, we looked at ways of mitigating the effects of events such as flooding, abnormal weather conditions and economic slowdowns. While we can’t look into a crystal ball to predict the next recession or storm, there are adjustments that can made to your business to help you weather them when they next arrive.


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