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Consultants boom fuelled by Gulf work

CONSULTING ENGINEERS this week said work was booming, with most of the top 10 firms reporting orders up 25% over the last 12 months.

Multinational firms such as Mott MacDonald, Halcrow and Arup reported strong growth from the burgeoning Middle East market.

But UK-focused firms such as Mouchel Parkman said the domestic market was also generating record orders.

'Our growth had been fairly flat for the last couple of years, but since April our order books have risen to levels 20% to 25% higher than the previous year, ' said Mott MacDonald managing director Keith Howells.

Mott MacDonald has taken on 15% more staff since June to deal with the extra workload.

Most has been generated from the Gulf region of the Middle East.

Hyder Consulting now employs 3,300 staff, compared to 2,800 people in October 2004, largely as a result of Middle East growth.

'The area has benefited from the high price of oil, combined with an increased willingness by the financial institution managers there to invest money in real estate construction rather than things such as US treasury bonds, ' said Hyder sales and marketing manager Neil Walls.

Halcrow has increased Gulf staff numbers from 220 to 1,000 in the last four years. And chief executive Peter Gammie said the UK business was benefi ting from rail, flood protection and Scottish transport spending.

'Our number of frameworks in various fields has increased and our order books are fuller than this time last year, ' added Gammie.

Mouchel Parkman last month reported record levels of contract wins, renewals and extensions increases, taking its order book to an all-time high of £1bn.

Arup said it was on course for a global growth of between 5% to 10% for this financial year, according to group commercial director David Whittleton.

John McKenna

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