Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

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Balfour reports ‘significant disruption’ on some sites

1 June 2020

Balfour Beatty had 83% of its UK and US construction sites open in May but 17% of them suffered “significant disruption” due to the lack of availability of employees, subcontractors or materials.

A trading update from the contractor revealed that its order book swelled to £17.4bn as at 30 April 2020, over 20% higher than the prior year end position, thanks to the addition of £3bn of HS2 contracts following a Notice to Proceed on the project.

Balfour Beatty, in joint venture with Vinci, will deliver lots N1 and N2 south of Birmingham, involving earthworks, ground engineering, viaducts and tunnels along a 90km stretch, as well as the London hub station at Old Oak Common.

Balfour said the areas in the UK most affected by coronavirus have been Scotland, where the devolved government required the closure of all non-essential construction works, and London where public transport availability “has been a significant challenge”.

It said that the key driver of performance for the rest of the year will be improving productivity, which will depend on the availability of employees, subcontractors and materials, while maintaining social distancing rules.

Last month, Balfour Beatty established a “New Normal Taskforce” which has generated over 450 ideas from across the business through an employee engagement campaign. The ideas are being taken forward for implementation under four strategic themes: working environment, new markets and capability, digital enhancement, and rapid return to work.

Leo Quinn, group chief executive, said: “These remain challenging and uncertain times. Our priority will always be the safety and health of all our employees, customers, partners and the public.

“Build to Last has made Balfour Beatty a resilient organisation with a high-quality order book and a strong balance sheet. As we navigate the group through this exceptional year, we will maintain our focus on the longer term to ensure we are ready to capitalise fully on the significant opportunities in our chosen markets.”