One of the UK’s leading construction and property consultancies, Thomas & Adamson, believes despite the negative outlook among many for the construction sector in 2018, plenty of opportunities remain in a post-Brexit UK.
“The outcome of Brexit for the construction industry will ultimately depend on the terms of any Brexit deal and the industry’s ability to adapt to its new situation and capitalise upon that,” said Chris Narrowmore, Partner at Thomas & Adamson.
He added: “We expected a downtown on the back of Brexit, but it hasn’t kicked in fully across the UK yet. There are still real opportunities out there. The main concern is how UK-based major funds will be looking to place investment. This could initially mean more outward investment rather than into the UK. That said, we have seen a fair amount of foreign investment in 2017 – especially into the UK student accommodation market.”
While forecasters at trade body ConstructionProducts Association believe the sector will expand just 0.7 per cent in 2018, the slowest rate in six years, it remains positive about the overall construction output growth for 2017, which they expect to be 0.3 per cent higher than previously thought, at 1.6 per cent, beating the CPA’s previous estimate of 1.3 per cent.
Senior Partner at Thomas & Adamson, Alastair Wallace, said: “Although uncertainty has the potential to derail the industry in the short term, the construction sector has a unique opportunity in a post-Brexit world to market itself.”
He added, “It must clearly define what a prosperous post-Brexit construction sector looks like. We cannot wait on politicians to determine the sector’s success. The construction sector’s players need to take the market by the horns and push ahead. Economists are talking about a decline in construction, but this really is more attributed to big infrastructure projects. There are still a lot of opportunities outside of government-funded projects and that’s what we as a company are focusing on.”
Mr Wallace points to Thomas & Adamson’s internal growth as a positive sign for the industry in 2018. “We continue to invest in the development of our staff and focus on our existing clients, with 93 per cent of our business coming from repeat clients and referrals. We saw an increase in the number of new hires in 2017 compared to the previous year and our London team in particular has grown substantially.”
Thomas & Adamson has a strong pipeline going into 2018, building on some current key projects, including: Jaguar Land Rover, Cityheart, Greenwich Millennium Village, Tesco, Pears Property, Muse Developments and British Land.
“We continue to focus on our key sectors: commercial, retail, hospitality and residential as they are the strongest sectors in the UK right now. In hospitality for example, there are still occupancy issues in Edinburgh and London for hotels so the demand is there, but unfortunately access to capital isn’t presently as easily accessible,” said Wallace.
Wallace adds, “Life science and the high-tech sectors are also very strong for us and will remain so going forward into 2018 and beyond. We have a number of projects ongoing in these sectors with clients including, MeiraGTx, Vascutek and Leonardo MW ltd – the largest inward investor in the UK defence sector.”