Contractors' jobs are hit as customer budgets tighten

Cost-cutting measures taken by private companies trying to combat the fragile economic climate, as well as central and local government departments, have hit horticultural contractors' order books.

BALI technical director Neil Huck said some contractors have had their forward-order books slashed by 50 per cent.

"Housing seems to be really seriously affected and lots of sites have been put on hold," said Huck.

The construction slump has resulted in losses for several major building firms including Bovis, Barratt and Persimmon, which made 1,000 job cuts at the beginning of July this year.

Huck added that while grounds maintenance contracts have not been so badly hit, the sector was feeling the shockwaves from cost-cutting measures, which could continue for the next two years.

"Some local authorities are looking at reduced frequencies of maintenance visits; for example, they might do seven (grass) cuts a year instead of eight," he warned.

"Clients are going to be expecting more for their money; grounds maintenance and landscaping has to be done but both central government and local authorities are looking for savings on their contracts."

Environmental support services firm Fountains, which employs 800 staff, has announced it now expects to fall significantly short of market expectations because, despite retaining its customer base, orders for work are being delayed.

Fountains chief executive Richard Haddon said the area he had observed as facing a particular downturn was rail.

"People are looking very carefully at their budgets and that is a general trend, but we've seen a particular downturn in rail," he said.

"We are just not seeing the same amount of work to bid on. We are not rushing into full-blown cost-cutting as far as employees are concerned, and we would be foolhardy to let good-quality staff go."

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Sargent's solutions - how to avoid the traps of 'professional non-payers'

Be wary of unscrupulous clients who may look for loopholes to avoid settling up at the end of a job, Alan Sargent warns.

Living walls

Living walls

The benefits of green walls make them worth investigation by all green-space professionals, says Miranda Kimberley.

Business planning - improving productivity through training

Business planning - improving productivity through training

How to create a structured training programme for your staff to give your business a competitive edge, by Neville Stein.

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

BALI National Landscape Awards 2017

Read all about the winning projects in the awards, run in association with Horticulture Week.

-Download the Digital Edition

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Industry Data

An exclusive report for HW subscribers revealing the key development trends, clients and locations for 2017.

Products & Kit Resources

Noel Farrer

Founding partner of Farrer Huxley Associates Noel Farrer on landscape and green space

Read Noel Farrer