Belfast Telegraph

Graham's record £400m in work despite Northern Ireland political uncertainty

Graham worked on the fit-out of Dunnes at Forestside
Graham worked on the fit-out of Dunnes at Forestside
Graham worked on the Ulster Hospital acute services block
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland building and civil engineering giant Graham Construction has said it's to hit a record £400m worth of construction projects here despite concerns over the lack of an Executive at Stormont.

Graham, which is based in Hillsborough, is now our biggest construction company with a £1bn order book and around 2,100 employees across the UK.

Major contracts here include £180m work on an acute services block at the Ulster Hospital, a £130m project on the A6 between Randalstown and Castledawson, the £53m construction of the new Grand Central Hotel in Belfast, and work worth £21.6m on student accommodation at Little Patrick Street in the city.

But its growth comes at a worrying time for the industry, which has spoken out about the impact of a lack of an Executive on routine construction and roads projects.

Graham Group executive chairman Michael Graham said: "Whilst our turnover in Northern Ireland has continued to grow, we would welcome budget certainty to increase confidence in the delivery of key projects."

The firm said that 1,100 of its employees are from Northern Ireland, with many travelling to projects in Britain.

There are around 300 employees in headquarters in Hillsborough.

The firm said it's working on over 100 sites - 50 building projects, 44 civil engineering projects and 14 fit-outs in the UK and Ireland.

In Britain, it's working on projects at the London Borough of Barnet, a £35m housing project in Manchester and £163m projects for NHS Grampian in Scotland.

Mr Graham added: "Our core markets remain strong, given the UK Government's infrastructure spend and a strong pipeline of opportunity in building, interior fit-out and facilities management.

"Our business units provide us with a well-balanced service offering within the group and all are underpinned by a healthy order book in excess of £1.1bn."

Graham Construction's growth follows concerns in the construction and quarrying industry about the impact of a lack of Stormont Executive on routine spending.

John Armstrong, managing director of the Construction Employers Federation (CEF), said a budgetary outlook from the Department of Finance before Christmas had highlighted the problems. Challenges arose "because of the huge investment going into the Northern Ireland Executive's flagship projects over the next three years".

But he said balance was required between spending on flagship projects, such as the A6, and other areas such as roads maintenance and education which were being neglected.

Belfast Telegraph