Review of 2011 - Contracts

January
•    Landscape contractors started the year buoyantly, with strong demand for domestic and large commercial projects, but British Association of Landscape Industries said clients were more demanding and squeezing costs tighter.
•    Landscape and grounds upkeep firm Gavin Jones branched out into retail by opening a specialist outlet for garden machinery after signing a dealership with Stihl. First year turnover was forecast to be around £100,000.
•    Ground Control reported a bumper year, with group turnover up by more than £14m on the previous year. The contractor, which won contracts worth £25m, was helped by the acquisition of Vale Contract Services and new contracts.

February
•    Scotland set aside a £1m war chest to fight invasive non-native plant species beside rivers and canals. The Scottish Government said four contracts would be offered for blitzing giant hogweed, rhododendron and Japanese knotweed.
•    Ex-prisoners and other offenders were given a chance to learn park-maintenance skills by ISS Facility Services Landscaping. The scheme, run by a social enterprise group and Windsor council aimed to reduce re-offending.
•    Royal Parks said it was looking for contractors to supply bedding plants for its eight parks on a five-year deal worth around £1m. The current Royal Parks nursery contract, fulfilled by a single provider, was due to end in 2012.

March
•    Olympic Delivery Authority advertised for a programme of work expected to be worth more than £100m to transform the Olympic Park for public use after the 2012 games. Two contracts were for the south and north of the park.
•    A consortium of investors bought environmental management firm Fountains to secure its future following the collapse of parent company Connaught Group, which slid into administration in 2010.
•    ISS Facility Services Landscaping launched what it said was the only course of its kind n the UK; a practical award taught by in-house trainers but accredited by skills council Lantra and focusing purely on hands-on work.

April
•    Contractors criticised the EU Sustainable Use Directive to reduce pesticide risk to human health as retrograde for stating that sprayer operators should have access to training. Experts said the directive should insist on certification.
•    Landscaping and grounds upkeep firms said they were cautiously optimistic for the future as the financial year dew to a close, with Marshalls nudging up sales and Glendale boasting a profit in its core grounds and countryside work.
•    Contractor George Hurst & Sons was appointed to install one of the first green walls for a school. The design for the 100sq m living wall at Saltersgate Junior School in Doncaster featured pre-grown meadow mats.

May
•    Trade group Interpave warned that planners were clamping down on recent rule changes on sustainable urban drainage, forcing installers - unaware they had to use permeable paving by homes - to rip up non-permeable alternatives.
•    House-building trends that suggested more people were moving into homes with gardens instead of high-density flats were welcomed by contractors who reckoned there could be more work for industry players.
•    Ministry of Defence threw open contracts for tree suppliers to plant up thousands of hectares of its training grounds, first phase of which was for 176,000 trees at a training ground in Cumbria.


June
•    North Somerset District Council said it aimed to secure a long-term grounds-upkeep contract with a social enterprise after a 12-month pilot project led by two staff who worked with volunteers to notch up 720 days of labour.
•    Building services and landscape services giant Mitie announced double-digit growth in revenue and earnings. New contracts with Rolls-Royce and the Home Office helped the firm to a 15.3 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £106m.
•    The Olympics came early at Broxbourne, which is hosting the canoe slalom. The borough council wanted to see what its displays would look like for the games in 2012 so put in an order for flowers from Plantscape 13 months early.


July
•    Olympic Delivery Authority said its procurement programme was coming to an end, having awarded more than 1,500 direct contracts worth over £6bn and of which 98 per cent went to UK-based companies.
•    Contractors at Gavin Jones dib-dib-dibbed with their plant dibbers and trowels to celebrate 100 years of scouting in a bedding display for Witney. Thousands of tiny plug plants went into the ground to recreate colours of the scout logo.
•    Landscape upkeep firm Nurture said it was cresting choppy economic waters thanks to a good order book and smart acquisitions including Mulberry Landscapes, which was putting it on course for a £8m annual turnover.


August
•    Olympic Park Legacy Company launched a landscape design competition for two public-realm spaces for the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park when it reopens in 2013. The larger project was a 23ha masterplan for the south park.
•    A children’s garden in Hampton Court Palace went up for tender for contractors and designers following a pledge of £1.5m for the Magical Garden. The Historic Royal Palaces charity invited expressions of interest.


September
•    Frosts Landscape Contractors landed a £3.2m contract to build Jubilee Gardens on London’s South Bank, one of the highest profile jobs in the capital outside the Olympic Park and including 70 trees, flowers and tonnes of stone.
•    Hillier Landscapes launched a big drive to expand its domestic landscaping service by saying it would explore the M3, M4 and A34 corridors with a view to opening a series of regional offices in the Cotswold area
•    Indoor planting firms reported strong growth despite firms cutting back on floral displays to save costs with one, Urban Planters, saying it coaxed a council to reinvest because plants reduced absenteeism.


October
•    Local authorities were urged to partner up with their contractors to spread the effort and cost of prepping their parks for Britain in Bloom following a tie up between Westminster and Continental Landscapes that resulted in a top prize.
•    Grounds contractors were told by pesticide watchdog BASIS to improve communication and planning of control regimes after several councils decided to stop or cut back on weeding programmes through poor communication.
•    Red, green, orange, yellow and blue coloured rubber surfacing was laid around the main stadium in the Olympic Park, marking the end of crucial infrastructure works to "stitch the site together," said the organiser.


November
•    Landscapers reported mixed business fortunes with some struggling with only one month of orders in front of them, while others were booked up well into 1012, according to British Association of Landscape Industries.
•    Haringey council in London stunned the sector by announcing a 50-year deal for upkeep of its cemeteries and crematoria with private company Dignity, a move described as flying in the face of all economic patterns.
•    Ministry of Defence said it wanted smaller landscape and tree contractors to grab a slice of work worth up to £950m across 200,000ha of land because it wanted "innovative smaller businesses to deliver hard outputs".


December
•    The best landscape designers and construction teams won praise from British Association of British Landscape Industries, with a compact hard landscape at Salford Quay’s, Manchester by the Landscape Group winning Grand Award.
•    Gingko Landscape Contractors bagged a huge contract with social housing giant Peabody to tackle upkeep on 160 estates and around 20,000 homes.
•    Tree suppliers and contractors dug into for a massive Forestry Commission Wales project to plant 2.9m trees over an area equivalent to 1,100 rugby pitches to combat the effect of climate change with around two million trees.


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