Contractors in Northern Ireland advise of strong competition and low prices

Political instability caused by a lack of a local Executive and Brexit uncertainty pose the greatest challenge to contractors, according to our latest Northern Ireland market intelligence survey.

Just over half of contractors in the market describe current tendering conditions as ‘cold’, with strong competition and tight margins dampening confidence. Over three quarters of respondents to the survey expect that these conditions will stay the same, with the remainder forecasting a further cooling in the months to come.  

Mixed picture for order books and output

There is a mixed picture to the market with a backdrop of political instability, delayed approvals, weakened pipeline and muted investor confidence. Yet order books for contractors have improved in the first half of 2019 when compared to previous years, standing at 80.0 percent full on average for 2019/20, and 64 percent for 2020/21. 

That said, total construction output in Northern Ireland decreased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of this year. It is also worth noting that the private commercial sector has also replaced the public sector and housing as the top performing area in the market, according to respondents.  

The short-term outlook appears pessimistic, leaving questions around what can provide the impetus to re-establish political certainty and restore confidence that the industry will improve. 

Download the report to read more about these challenges and see the full analysis and insight from the survey.