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Consultants' workload up, but growth slows

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TURNOVER IN UK engineering consultancy hit £7bn last year but is showing signs of slowing, NCE can exclusively reveal.

NCE's annual Consultants File reveals that total fees earned by all consultants rose by just £200M to £5.9bn in 2004, compared with rises of £700M in 2003 and £840M in 2002.

Growth in the roads and building structures markets slowed down while workload in the water sector dropped by £34M to £451M. With the new water spending cycle about to start in April, this is expected to improve next year.

The rail industry was the main area of growth, seeing total fees earned rise by £100M to £681M.

The File also reports a widening gulf between multinational fi ms and the rest.

Smaller consultants said they were unable to bid for work against the new breed of merged super consultancies such as Jacobs, and had to accept checking and sub-consultancy work.

Most consultants predicted growth in UK and international workload but felt that work in Europe would remain stagnant.

Ireland and China were identifi ed as areas with most potential. Hong Kong, Turkey and Germany were areas least likely to show signifi cant growth over the next two years (see box).

INFOPLUS The Consultants File is published with NCE this week.

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