Belfast Telegraph

McLaughlin & Harvey expected to shed jobs as building output continues to decline

By John Mulgrew and Margaret Canning

Several jobs are set to go at Northern Ireland building firm McLaughlin & Harvey as the latest industry bulletin showed a decline in output.

It's understood the Newtownabbey-based firm is making between five and 10 staff redundant. But last night the company did not wish to comment on the job losses, or clarify what area of their Northern Ireland business the staff cuts would affect.

It currently employs around 400 staff and has offices in Scotland and England.​ The firm, which is led by Philip Cheevers, has worked in the commercial, retail and industrial sectors.

The company was founded in 1853 by Henry McLaughlin and William Harvey as a building and contracting firm.

Meanwhile, the separate construction bulletin from the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency has said output from building firms fell by 0.7% in the third quarter of the year, compared to the three months beforehand.

Year-on-year there was a fall of 3.9% in output recorded in the bulletin, which covers work carried out by firms in Northern Ireland.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), said the figure contained no surprises - but that it was hopeful for a busier 2015. The CEF has also said that the sector would be languishing all the more were it not for firms' ability to find work outside Northern Ireland.

Mr Armstrong said: "The figures for the third quarter confirm our sense that there was no meaningful recovery in construction output on the ground in Northern Ireland in 2014.

"In the year ahead we expect to see an increase in housing output and private sector work."

But he said a question mark still hung over public sector investment in infrastructure and public buildings in 2015-16.

"We are still analysing the final budget but on the face of it capital investment will be significantly down on this year and maintenance spend will be reduced as well. The industry is concerned that this will further delay recovery in the sector and exacerbate Northern Ireland's infrastructure deficit."

Over the third quarter of 2014, according to the bulletin, new work for building firms was down by nearly 1%, while repair and maintenance work fell only slightly.

On a more positive note, there was a 6% increase in 'other work' but infrastructure output fell steeply by 11.2%. Housing output was also down 1.9%.

The bulletin said: "The overall trend in construction output carried out in Northern Ireland since 2007 has been downward.

"In the last three quarters, however, the levels of construction output have been broadly similar."

Output in Britain had grown by nearly 1% on the previous quarter. Also in the third quarter, output in Britain was at 99% of output in 2011.

But output in Northern Ireland was lagging at around 86% of output recorded for 2011.

Belfast Telegraph