The only certainty is uncertainty – but that’s okay! It was 18 months ago that the UK voted to leave the European Union and this is still a dominant topic of conversation.
Rising costs and a lack of wage growth are affecting spending power and consumer confidence, whilst the impact on property and construction includes skills shortages, mobility of labour and the weakened pound’s negative effect on import material prices.
However, there are positive signs, with manufacturing and GDP both up and unemployment declining. Progress on exit arrangements appears to have finally been made, allowing 2018 to be approached with a renewed optimism as the UK moves into the trade negotiation phase of Brexit.
This year Concert has seen enquiry activity increase by a fantastic 25% gaining 40 new clients on the way, with our Principal Designer offer growing over 100%. We have completed a number of high profile projects across various sectors with John Lewis, Hyundai, Land Rover, Volvo, TH Real Estate, Bullitt Hotel in Belfast, Four Seasons, British Research Establishment and Marks & Spencer (in both the UK & Ireland) to name a few.
The commercial office market remains challenging; much of the activity is based around Crossrail hubs, which is evidence of the strong desire of developers and institutions to create long term value where opportunities exist. Wherever there is an increase in infrastructure activity (activity grew by 7.4% in 2017 and is predicted to grow by 6.4% in 2018), private house building will often follow and will be the primary driver for growth over the next two years.
Another sector showing a tangibly positive outlook is hotel and leisure, benefiting from the boost to overseas tourism in the UK due to the lower pound, coupled with an upturn in domestic holidays. Hotel regeneration is particularly prevalent in London and Belfast.
Data Centres have been an active sector here in the UK and Europe, and Concert are currently working on a total of 109 MW of IT processing power across a number of sites. There is plenty more to come from this sector, driven by edge computing, development of 5G technology and the demand for higher volumes of processing. This is leading to an increase in Edge and Hyperscale Data Centres here in the UK, having previously been more active in the Nordics and IRL.
Not even Brexit can stop the juggernaut of force that technology is, bringing with it seismic shifts in the way we live, work and play. External socio-political factors make our ability to influence a challenge, but as consultants we can control how we behave, react and help our clients to create true value. Our intellectual property is still valued but the role has to progress to that of a trusted adviser, working with our clients in a strategic role.
Along with technology, innovation will have the last word and the role of the Project Manager and Cost Consultant must align to this as we assess how we can maximise our positive impact on all our commissions.
The desire to drive our clients’ business forward will always be paramount. In 2018 we will continue to invest in talent, always delivering fresh thinking, creativity and clarity for continued success and growth.