Top 10 Construction Contractors in the UK

17th March 2021   |   Jamie Barrett   |   Reading Time: 5 minutes

Let’s take a close look at the top 10 construction contractor companies and their history, which currently make up a large percentage of the total construction spend in the UK. 

The Construction Industry in the United Kingdom creates about £123 billion in buildings and infrastructure every year. This means that it is contributing around 7% of GDP. 

Although the top 10 construction contractors have a combined turnover of approximately £33 billion, the industry is extremely diverse and comprises small companies from 2-3 people, right through to the largest companies with more than 26,000 employees.

If you work in construction or are familiar with the industry some of the companies in the top 10 construction contractors will be recognisable.

However, there might be some surprises on the list, and you might also be surprised by the absence of some you might have expected to make the list! 

Without further ado, let’s look at the top 10 construction contractors in the UK. 

No1. Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty is the leading international infrastructure group. Their turnover for the period ending 2019 was £8.45 billion – almost double that of the 2nd largest construction contractor. 

Balfour Beatty finance, develop, build and maintain innovative and efficient infrastructure. They employ around 26,000 people and operate mainly in the UK, Ireland and North America. 

Notable projects include Thames Tideway Tunnel, HS2 and Crossrail. 

Balfour Beatty was founded in 1909 by George Balfour and Andrew Beatty. 

No.2 Kier Group

Kier Group is a leading provider of construction and infrastructure services, providing specialist design and build capabilities. The group turned over £4.49 billion in 2019 across all its construction subsidiaries. Kier employs around 19,000 people operating mainly in the UK. 

Notable projects include Hinkley Point, Deephams Wastewater Treatment Plant and Luton Direct Air-Rail Transit.

Kier was founded in 1928 as a specialist concrete company.  

No.3 Interserve 

Interserve is a leading UK building, infrastructure, engineering and fit out company. They deliver vital projects across a range of sectors and specialise in design and build capabilities. 

The company turned over £3.23 billion in 2019 across all construction activities. Interserve employs over 60,000 people across 230 offices worldwide. 

Interserve has recently rebranded to Tilbury Douglas for its construction and engineering services. Interserve has been particularly strong in the healthcare sector delivering over £227 million under the Procure 22 Framework. 

Interserve was founded in 1884 as the London and Tilbury Lighterage Company Limited.   

No.4 Morgan Sindall

Morgan Sindall is a leading Construction and Regeneration group comprising eight complementary subsidiary businesses. 

The group focuses on affordable housing, urban regeneration and infrastructure and construction investment. Morgan Sindall turnover in 2019 was £3.07 billion. They employ around 6,600 people and operate in the UK. 

Most notable projects include Tideway Super Sewer, Werrington Grade Separation and M5 Oldbury Viaduct. 

Morgan Sindall was founded in 1977 by John Morgan and Jack Lovell. 

No.5 Galliford Try 

Galliford Try is a leading UK construction group that is working to improve the UK’s built environment and local communities. 

The company’s attention is spent in delivering products and services in aviation, infrastructure, and buildings. Galliford Try turned over £2.86 billion in 2019 and employed over 3,000 staff. 

Notable projects include St Pancras Chambers restoration, Tottenham Hale development and Lincoln Eastern Bypass. 

The company was created in 2000 through a merger of Try Group, which was founded in 1908, and Galliford which was founded in 1916.  

No.6 Amey

Amey is one of the top five support services suppliers for road and rail infrastructure projects in the UK. Although Amey is not strictly a construction contractor, they have been added to the list due to their sheer size in addition to management and investment capabilities. 

The company turned over £2.67 billion in 2019, employing over 16,000 people. 

Based in the UK, Amey has been involved in the delivery of Thames Tideway Tunnel,  Heathrow Airport and National Grid Overhead Line Fittings. 

The company was founded 1921 by William Charles Amey. 

No.7 ISG

ISG is a leading specialist in fit out, technology, and construction in five distinct sectors – offices, technology, science and health, hospitality & leisure, and education & public sector. 

The company’s turn-over in 2019 was £2.59 billion and marked the significant milestone of being the first time ISG exceeded the £2 billion mark. 

The business employs almost 3,000 staff that have been responsible for delivering construction projects worldwide. ISG has delivered some large scale fit out projects in the UK, with notable projects including Aldwych Quarter in London, Network Rail offices in London, and Allied World offices in London. 

ISG was founded in 1994 by Ivan Millar. 

No.8 Keller Group

Keller Group is a ground engineering specialist that provides technically advanced solutions and services, relating to ground behaviour, to the construction industry. 

Their operating activities include foundation support, ground retention, underground excavation, ground water control, conservation & rehabilitation and environmental protection. 

The company turned over £2.33 billion in 2019 employing over 10,000 staff. 

Keller Group has worked on some landmark projects around the world as well as in the UK. Most notably, Crossrail C310, London Power Tunnels, and South Cliff Stabilisation Scheme in Scarborough. 

Keller Group was founded in 1860 by Johann Keller. 

No.9 Tarmac Trading 

Tarmac Trading is a UK based business delivering roads & services infrastructure, highways maintenance and off-site manufacturing. Tarmac Trading is also a supplier of construction products such as aggregates, asphalt, cement, lime and ready-mix concrete. 

Tarmac Trading’s turn-over was £2.13 billion in 2019, employing around 7,000 staff over 400 sites in the UK. 

Notable projects where Tarmac Trading has made key contributions include Silverstone, Wembley Stadium and The Shard. 

Tarmac was founded in 2013, although its roots go as far back as 1903.  

No.10 Laing O’Rourke 

Laing O’Rourke is a UK based construction business that funds, designs, manufactures, constructs, and maintains the built environment. 

The company is privately owned and operates internationally in Europe, Australasia, and the Middle East. 

In 2019 Laing O’Rourke turned over £1.93 billion, employing almost 13,000 staff. 

The company has been responsible for delivering some of the UK’s most notable projects, including The Leadenhall Building in London, London Heathrow Terminal 5 and Ascot Racecourse (main stand). 

Laing O’Rourke was founded in 1978 by Ray O’Rourke. 

Who didn’t make the top 10 construction contractors?

There are few recognisable names that just missed the cut but are still well worth a mention; Mace (£1.83 billion), Skanska (£1.79 billion), Wates Group (£1.63 billion), Willmott Dixon (£1.25 billion). 

The industry that is building our future

As I mentioned back at the start, the wider construction industry makes a remarkable contribution to the UK’s GDP and delivers a whopping £123 billion in buildings and infrastructure making it an exciting space to work in. 

Looking to the future, with an urgent need to be more sustainable and innovative, the opportunity to create a built environment that will leave a lasting and positive impact on the world presents us with a wealth of opportunity.

From our own perspective, writing this article highlighted how many notable projects the team have been involved in during their careers. And how they are now able to bring those industry leading skills and experiences to help our clients.

If you are planning a project and would like to find out more about how Evolution5 can form part of your expert team of consultants, click the button below to get in touch. 

This article uses 2019 publicly available accounts as 2020 accounts were not readily available for all these organisations at the time of writing.