It’s time to grow, say construction businesses in the Solent

Things are on the up.

That’s the message from some of the biggest players in the region’s construction sector, who were brought together by financial and legal experts last week (July 11) to discuss the future of the industry.

Solent firms say that while 2013 kicked off with negative growth (-2.4%), they are expecting business to pick up in coming months, with jobs overseas providing the biggest opportunities.

The comments mirror findings from the latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor, which shows that the Confidence Index for the construction sector now stands at its highest (+22.7) since Q1 2010 (-8.1).

Kerry McKeown, Tax Director at Grant Thornton in Southampton and one of the key speakers at Thursday’s event, said: “These latest findings suggest that the worst may be over for this sector and it’s promising to hear this reflected by Solent construction companies. Looking forward, the businesses that are able to identify and target niche markets here and internationally are the ones that will be able to grab the biggest share as the upturn takes place.”

Ed McKenzie, Group Commercial Director at Winchester-based Lakesmere, one of the top 250 performing companies in the Solent, added: “The year may have begun with negative growth but the green shoots are there for those willing to search for them and we are seeing those at Lakesmere. International business growth is a key way that we are doing this and our successful expansion into areas such as the Middle East is proof that firms in the Solent are growing globally.”

Thursday’s event, which was organised by Grant Thornton and Paris Smith LLP, saw delegates from companies such as Raymond Brown, Lakesmere and Drew Construction Group discuss big issues such as the major obstacles to growth, skills shortages and the Government’s new construction industry strategy. They were also given a tour of the new Hilton hotel being built at The Ageas Bowl.