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Ground improvement leads specialist upturn

THE UK specialist foundations market is expected to show continued growth over the next few years, according to a new market research report from industry analyst MSI Marketing Research for Industry.

This growth in real terms confirms the turnaround in the market recorded last year when the market grew by an estimated 8%, ending several years of decline. The renewed growth in 1998 valued the market at an estimated £335M, according to Chester-based MSI.

The report presents the latest market data for 1998, with an analysis of trends in the market over the period from 1994 up to 1998, and also including annual market forecasts for each major market sector to 2003.

The strongest growth sector is expected to be ground improvement, where MSI forecasts growth of more than 30% over the next few years. This will be driven both by start-up of some major projects, together with increasing use of brownfield sites.

Piling will remain the largest sector of the specialist foundations market, and MSI expects it to grow modestly but significantly over the next five years to almost £220M.

MSI observes that within the piling market, bored piling has lost market share to CFA and driven piling. Although bored piling was helped by the upturn in construction activity, the growth in the value of the market was constrained due to severe price competition. MSI also says that in value terms small diameter bored piles are a larger share of the market than large diameter. This the company says reflects the reduction in the number of major construction projects, and the increase in the number of smaller-scale commercial and industrial projects.

Less optimistically MSI observes that the specialist foundations market is charact- erised by a large number of players, and although the market has contracted in recent years, the number of companies in the market has not significantly shrunk.

This has put pressure on prices, and while increasing workload will relieve this to some extent, the existence of such a large number of companies means improve- ment in pricing will be spread thinly offering little overall relief.

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