Investing in skills ‘will boost UK’s productivity’

Sir Charlie Mayfield

Sir Charlie Mayfield

Ministers, unions and businesses have been urged to deliver more ‘earning and learning’ employment schemes, in order to raise people’s skill levels.

Experts at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) believe that further attention needs to be paid to career pathways such as apprenticeships.

In a new study, which is supported by the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), they suggest that productivity, wages and social mobility could all be improved thanks to further skills investments.

While a diverse range of construction firms have committed to apprenticeship schemes in recent years, it is thought that more employers need to focus on these initiatives.

The call to extend earning and learning options like apprenticeships is one of five key recommendations which are made in the new ‘Growth Through People’ report.

Over the coming two decades, it also suggests that greater levels of collaboration will be required between politicians, union groups and employers themselves.

These collaborations will need to stretch across different supply chains, industries and regions, the UKCES believes.

Another key issue which employers need to focus on relates to productivity, it said.

The commission feels that boosting people’s skills will enhance their productivity, in turn strengthening employee engagement, pay levels and management systems.

Stronger links must also be built between employers and educators, the authors of the report suggest.

They believe that students should be offered more work experience placements, to help them become better-equipped for the world of employment.

Finally, the UKCES said employers should look beyond traditional exam results and qualifications when hiring new workers.

It said a wider set of outcomes should be taken into consideration, to ensure that job candidates have the right skills to succeed in a given role.

UKCES chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield said the UK’s employment market continues to evolve rapidly.

He said: “Around 90 per cent of the current workforce will still be in work in the next decade. That’s where we will win or lose on productivity. And that’s why employers must lead in tackling this, and be given the space and encouragement to do so.

“That needs to start early, with more integration between the worlds of work and education.”

Adrian Belton

Adrian Belton

Responding to the report, Adrian Belton, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board said: “UKCES is absolutely right to say employers need to show leadership on skills. CITB has a key role to play, working with Government, industry and education to help the industry show this leadership and make it as simple as possible.”

Through the Trailblazer we’ve worked with employers to set standards and our independent, cross party apprenticeship commission is bringing together new ideas from across the industry to make sure construction apprenticeships are world class.

“Our work needs to be employer and demand led. We’re using industry forecasts and intelligence to support industry in influencing education providers to deliver the right training locally. Our industry-led common gateway will provide a single point of entry for those looking for a stimulating and financially rewarding career in construction.

“We fully support the UKCES report and are committed to working with industry and government to support stronger leadership to create a high productivity economy.”

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And finally… Verona planning to build high-rise cemetery

Cielo Infinito Verona graveyard

The Italian city of Verona is planning to build the country’s first high-rise cemetery to combat its rapidly ageing problem.

With the city’s graveyards packed to capacity, council officials have given initial approval to plans submitted by Cielo Infinito (Infinite Sky) to build a futuristic tower topped by a chapel on the outskirts of the city where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet.

Depending on which newspaper you read, the complex will be 33-35 storeys high accommodating between 24,000 and 60,000 dead bodies.

For a tomb with a view, customers can have their ashes stored, be buried in a coffin, or pick one of more than 2,000 group chapels where family members can be interred together.

A city spokesman said the idea had won support because Verona’s main cemetery had been completely built around, and could no longer expand. No final decision has yet to be made, with a vote by all council members yet to be taken, he said.

Although it will be Verona’s tallest building, the spokesman said that it would be beyond the ring road and would not ruin the city’s skyline.


Opposition members on the council have called the idea absurd and complained that dead people should not be taken care of by a private company.

The spokesman said that a cash offer from Cielo Infinito for the land had helped to win officials round, as the council suffers funding cuts.

“We tried to sell the land involved for €750,000 (£590,000) and had no takers, then this company came forward with an offer of €11.5 million,” he said.

“Those higher up the building will be closer to God, although I hope they don’t get vertigo,” joked one council official who declined to be named.

The need for cemetery space has increased, but as cities grow, the available space has dropped.

The world’s tallest high-rise cemetery so far is the 32-storey Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica in Santos, Brazil, while a six-storey Buddhist temple in Tokyo allows visitors to use a swipe card to summon the remains of their relatives, delivered from the vaults on a conveyer belt.

In Israel, the Yarkon Cemetery on the edge of Tel Aviv, which is threatened by the rising waters of the Yarkon river, is planning to build 30 vertical extensions that will host 250,000 graves in addition to the 110,000 now dug at ground level and spread across 150 acres.


Building Briefs – November 26th

Affordable housing work underway on Edinburgh’s Western Harbour

Western HarbourConstruction is now once again underway on the Western Harbour to continue the areas regeneration and deliver much needed homes for Edinburgh.

Hart Builders, with funding from its parent company, Cruden Investments, and RBS, are carrying out the construction of the 96 unit scheme, which includes full underground parking, and is expected to sustain 115 jobs.

In a repeat of the arrangement pioneered at the 145 unit Salamander Place development, the National Housing Trust provides a medium term re-financing package, which in turn enables Cruden Investments and RBS to fund the £11.5m construction through to completion on behalf of the landowner, a subsidiary of Forth Ports.


Green light for Dundee Lidl store rebuild

Discount supermarket chain Lidl has been granted permission to knock down a Dundee store and replace it with a bigger one.

The 19-year-old Macalpine Road shop was deemed too small, with the firm applying to council planners for permission to build a new one offering a wider range of goods to customers.

The new supermarket, which will include extra parking, will be 80 per cent larger and will take in vacant land to the north of the shopping centre.

Work to demolish the existing store is expected to start in early 2015 with the new store opening in the summer.


Edinburgh care home plans submitted

BPA Architects have submitted plans for a 60 bed care home including a café, library and activity spaces at Inchview Terrace, Edinburgh.

Designed on behalf of Care UK, the Portobello property will feature dementia friendly gardens designed by Arterre to which all ground floor tenants will have direct access.

Situated on a disused car dealership the home will minimise bedroom groupings to eight or less to mitigate confusion amongst residents with each flat equipped with its own dining room, lounges and quiet room.

Residents will also have access to terraces and balconies on upper levels, offering views out to Arthur’s Seat and the beach.


New bid to demolish former Waverley Hotel in Perth

Businesswoman Ann Gloag has resurrected plans to demolish an increasingly derelict Perth city centre hotel.

Ms Gloag wants to raze the Waverley Hotel in York Place to expand the community use of the adjacent Trinity Church of the Nazarene, of which she and her brother, Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter, are members.

Ms Gloag has claimed the transformation of the hotel, which was once a magnet for visitors to the Fair City, would “assist” those with drug and alcohol issues.

After a recent history which has seen the listed hotel controversially used as a homeless refuge before closing its doors in August 2011, the building has degenerated into an eyesore.

A previous plan submitted by Ms Gloag to demolish the hotel to build a hall and flats was submitted in May 2013 but later withdrawn.

It was put on the market in January this year but failed to attract sufficient interest.

As a result, following meetings with the local authority, the latest plan has been proposed.

The case for demolition has been drawn up by Denholm Partnership Architects on behalf of Bonhard Leasing LLP, of which Ms Gloag is a director.

The revised plans would see a new lobby, multi-use hall and gym to develop more sport and fitness-related programmes.

An application for listed building consent has also been lodged with the local authority.


Edinburgh housing project scores award hat-trick

The first council housing project to be built in Edinburgh for a generation has won its third prestigious award.

The Gracemount scheme came top in the Excellence in Regeneration category of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland Awards, beating off competition from Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games village.

Judges said that the project was “remarkable” thanks to its well-designed homes and its engagement with the community.

It is the third national award earned by Gracemount, which is a partnership between the City of Edinburgh Council and The Cruden Group, and the first phase of the council’s 21st Century Homes programme.

Edinburgh’s Moredun and Hyvots regeneration project also reached the finals in the same category.

Gracemount won the ‘Best Partnership in Affordable Housing Delivery’ category of the 2012 Homes for Scotland Awards, and ‘Community Partnership of the Year’ in the Scottish Homes Awards in 2011.


Help on its way to owners of empty Moray homes

Moray Council is preparing to help owners of empty homes get their properties back into use.

The council is preparing a draft Empty Homes Strategy, which sets out what it might do to help owners. This strategy is introduced following the recent decision by the council to introduce a Council Tax levy on long-term empty properties.

Some owners may require some advice, assistance, and in some circumstances financial support to bring their property back into use, and the strategy and presents some draft actions to provide that help.

Before the council can implement the support for empty properties it needs to consult on its draft strategy.

A survey has been produced for this, which can be downloaded or carried out online.
The survey ends on December 19.


Council praises £23m roads scheme

Argyll and Bute Council has said its £23 million investment in the road network has been a success.

In February 2012, the local authority said it was to invest £21m in road reconstruction in the area, over a period of three financial years, taking it o April 2015. Additional funding from the Scottish Government brought the total package to £23m.

Work on the programme has now been substantially completed, with the remainder of the work expected to be completed by Christmas. Argyll and Bute Council has said the scheme has “seen an improvement to the overall condition of the network”.

The work has included resurfacing, patching, surface dressing and in-situ surface recycling, and has helped to seal the road, stop the ingress of water, improve the general driving quality of the surface and reduce the need for reactive repairs.

In addition to the engineering work, the council has also cleared surrounding scrub, carried out ditching and drainage work and improved sight lines.

As a result of the scheme, almost 90 per cent of the area’s key ‘A’ roads are said to be in a good or fair condition. More than 360 miles of road have been upgraded, around 25 per cent of the total network. With the project continuing into its fourth consecutive year, the council is to invest around £5m in works will see around 45 per cent of ‘A’ roads upgraded and 35 per cent of ‘B’ roads.


Work continues at Kirkcaldy Esplanade

Work is continuing to progress at Kirkcaldy Esplanade, where a multi-storey car park is being upgraded. 

The two-level car park provides direct access to the Mercat Shopping Centre, and a total of £175,000 has been invested in the project. The work has involved installing new energy efficient lighting, painting walls and ceilings, new bright coloured surfacing, wider parking bays and new walkways for pedestrians.

It was part-funded by Fife Council’s Town Centre Development Fund for Kirkcaldy.


Edinburgh Wetherspoon Picture House plan moves step forward

Plans to convert one of Edinburgh’s premier music venues into a superpub have moved a step closer after officials granted JD Wetherspoon listed building consent for the Picture House on Lothian Road.

The venue still faces a battle to secure a change of use with planners after 19,000 signatures were added to a petition aiming to save the Picture House as a live music hub.

Councillors are likely to discuss the plans on December 3 at a development management sub-committee meeting though the agenda is still to be confirmed.


Flats helping to provide future for old Dunfermline linen mill

A piece of Dunfermline’s industrial past in danger of being lost is being given a new lease of life.

The historic linen mills at Victoria Works in Pilmuir Street is on the Buildings at Risk register for Scotland.

Part of the building dates from 1876, with extensions dating from the late 19th Century.

However, the prominent frontage of the building, an echo of Dunfermline’s once thriving and vibrant linen producing industry, is now being preserved as part of a housing development.

The symmetrical two-storey office and warehouse block, which has “an impressive Italianate frontage “ was built for Inglis and Co. At its heyday it gave work to 700 members of staff, working at up to 700 looms. It was closed as a weaving factory in 1926 and converted for Wilson and Wightman to use as an embroidery works in 1928.

In July 2010 an external inspection found the building in “very poor” condition. It was subsequently put in the high risk category.

Listed building consent for partial demolition and conversion to housing was approved by Fife Council in 2008.

Gleeds to project manage Aberdeen development

GleedsInternational management and construction consultancy Gleeds has been appointed to project manage the first phase of a significant new development at Loirston on the south side of Aberdeen.

The £3.5 million scheme marks the beginning of a wider mixed use project involving Hermiston Securities Ltd, the development arm of house-building expert the Muir Group, and Aberdeen City Council.

The development promises to deliver a new residential area for south Aberdeen, with phase one including the provision of necessary road, drainage and services infrastructure. Once complete, the site will boast 1500 houses, 11 hectares of employment land, a new neighbourhood centre, community facilities and a primary school. There is also the potential to accommodate a football or community stadium.

Planning permission in principle has recently been gained for the first 1067 houses and eight hectares of employment land with works due to commence in spring 2015. Phase one is set for completion by the end of 2015 while the wider development is expected to take 15 to 20 years to come to fruition.

Alan Dickson, Gleeds director for Scotland, said: “Gleeds has extensive experience in the residential sector which stands us in good stead for our latest venture on behalf of Hermiston Securities Ltd. This is a massive development for Aberdeen. It will provide a boost to surrounding communities as well as bringing much needed new homes to the local area and we look forward to work beginning on site.”

Dundee shipping container offices clean up at architect awards

District 10 Dundee

The first commercial building constructed from shipping containers in Scotland has achieved a clean sweep of the Dundee Institute of Architects Awards.

The District 10 container office building, designed by Ged Young of Aim Design Architects, received several awards including Best Commercial Building, an award for Interior Design as well as picking up the award for Best Client, Scottish Enterprise. The night was complete when the project received the top award of the evening, the Supreme Award for best overall project.

The first commercial container building for early start businesses in Scotland was opened in September 2013 at Seabraes, a former railway goods yard located to the west of Dundee’s waterfront. The project was joint funded by Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund, Tayside charity Matthew Trust and received a financial boost from the Scottish Government’s capital investment in shovel ready projects.

District 10 Dundee inside

Dundee is renowned for its expertise in digital media and creative industries. More than 350 businesses in the sector, employing more than 3300 people, are currently based in Dundee and the surrounding area generating a combined annual turnover in excess of £185 million.

The building achieves a high level of sustainability and is accredited as a BREEAM excellent project. Constructed from 37 recycled shipping containers it provides 15 lettable units for up to 4 people. The facility is aimed at early stage creative industry companies and builds on Dundee’s enviable reputation for creative companies that can deliver innovative and successful products.

Ged Young, the architect for the project, said: “This is a wonderfully positive story for the city. The building is a first for Scotland and Dundee and we are delighted for District 10 to receive the recognition that these awards celebrate. The building is almost fully let in little more than a year from opening and has become a recognised architectural feature within the Dundee Waterfront development. This project is yet another step towards the delivery of a successful waterfront and we look forward to the future commencement of the V&A and surrounding development with great anticipation and excitement.”

The project delivery team also included cost consultants, WJR Christie & Partners, structural and civil engineers Fairhursts, and services consultants BBH. The project was constructed by Maxi Construction.

In winning the Supreme Award the project will qualify for entry into the RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building Award next year which is the largest Architectural prize in the UK.

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Construction Leads – November 26th


Applicant: West Of Scotland Housing Association

Planning Authority: Glasgow

Details: Construction of residential development with associated parking, landscaping works and new vehicular access and formation of car parking area for community centre.

Location: Site bounded by Yate Street/Stamford Street/ Law Street, Glasgow

Agent: Gentoo Homes, Per Paul Nagel, Akeler House, 1 Emperor Way


Applicant: Perthshire Glazing Company

Planning Authority: Perth

Details: Demolition of buildings and construction of 38 flats

Location: 36-48 Canal Street, Perth

Agent: Muir Walker and Pride, 23 Marshall Place, Perth



Applicant: Shoreside Homes

Planning Authority: Perth

Details: Change of use and alterations of former school and offices to form 2 residential properties and reinstatement of vehicular access

Location: Offices Cherrybank School, 193-195 Glasgow Road, Perth

Agent: Mill Design LLP, Richard Webb, Gatherleys, Forgandenny, Perth


Springburn Winter Gardens design competition winner announced

Springburn Winter Gardens

The Glasgow Institute of Architects has revealed the winners of a design competition for a new gathering space and history resource at Springburn Winter Garden.

James Hand and Nik Klahre were named as the winners of the competition titled, “An intervention at Springburn Winter Gardens; to provide a place where people can gather and share collective memories.”

All entrants to the competition were asked to provide a computer generated model, which was 3D digitally printed by competition delivery partner MAKLAB. From a total of 25 entries a shortlist of five was selected by a specially selected panel of judges.

Paul John Sweeney, secretary of Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, said: “We were overwhelmed with the high quality of entrants and the vast array of novel ideas explored in response to our brief. Down-selecting our shortlist proved to be an arduous process and we therefore had to be quite ruthless in getting down to our final five designs.

“We are very excited by all of them and indeed there are many aspects of several designs we are keen to explore for other parts of the site. The winning design proved to be an excellent reflection of the brief and it has also responded in an innovative way to the A-listed character of the original Winter Gardens structure. We look forward to developing this design as the basis of our plans for this part of the site.”

The models then formed the basis of an exhibition that toured throughout the Springburn area. The general public were invited to cast their vote for their favoured finalist. There were 324 votes cast at venues that included Mosesfield House in Springburn Park, NG Homes local office, the local sports centre, the local shopping centre and the community space in a refurbished high rise block of flats.

Patricia Ferguson MSP for Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn, said: “Springburn Winter Gardens is a building which, even in its current derelict state, is much loved by the people of Springburn. I am delighted that so many people from the area have had the opportunity to look at the designs and to express their views in the recent architectural completion. I think they will be delighted with the winning entry.”

The competition was designed to plant a seed of change. Given the lengthy stalemate endured by the Winter Gardens an intervention will facilitate a quick win to spark hope and enliven community support. This will allow the community to witness immediate change and provide the impetus to regenerate the whole structure.

Public voting has ensured that the community is central to the support and development of the process. It places the community at the heart of the Springburn Winter Gardens Trust’s work.

Competition winners, James and Nik, said: “We are both thrilled to have been selected as winners, it’s especially meaningful for us as the result has come from a public vote. We look forward to helping the Springburn Winter Garden Trust work toward the future revival of the Winter Gardens and hope it will once again become a cherished and animated part of the community.”

Following this local action Glasgow City Council have taken further measures to save the structure.

Councillor Gilbert Davidson of Springburn Ward, added: “I am pleased that the city council has been able to provide the funds to arrest the deterioration of the Winter Garden and has also given its backing to the Winter Garden Trust to bring back this once great building back into use for the people of Springburn.”

The exhibition will now go on general display in The Lighthouse, Glasgow from 29th January 2015 to 11th March 2015. James Hand and Nik Klahre will receive £1000 for 1st place, City of Play Design will receive £500 for 2nd place and Ruggero Lancia will get £250 for 3rd place.

The competition was supported by NG Homes.

Robert Tamburrini, CEO of NG Homes said: “We were delighted to be part of the design competition and to give our customers the opportunity to vote for their favourite design in our offices. We engage with a range of community groups across North Glasgow and where we can, we will continue to support the endeavours of Springburn Winter Gardens Trust in their aim to fully restore the hot house in Springburn Park.”

Frustrated home builders caution against latest housing stats

Philip Hogg

Philip Hogg

Scotland’s home building industry today responded with caution and frustration to latest official quarterly statistics announcing a significant increase in the number of new build completions for April-June compared to last year.

Official statistics released today show that across all sectors, 4,583 homes were completed in April to June this year, the highest quarterly figure since 2010, and 29 per cent higher than in the same quarter last year.

The figures mean the number of new homes built in Scotland is at its highest level for over three years.

However, with the details published on a UK-wide “day of action” aiming to push housing up the political agenda, Philip Hogg, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, cautioned against the results and instead predicted a flat 2014.

He said: “Whilst any rise in the number of much needed new homes being built is, of course, to be warmly welcomed, what these figures show beyond doubt is the game-changing impact that the Help to Buy (Scotland) shared equity scheme had in the first half of 2014.

“However, funding for the scheme for this financial year ran out in July since which time sales have significantly dropped off.

“With the industry having to adjust production as a result, it is our view that this will be reflected in the statistics for the later part of the year.  We therefore fear that overall activity levels for 2014 will be broadly flat, meaning that Scotland will continue to fall well-behind the number of new homes required to meet the country’s housing need.

“Buyer interest is plain to see after so many years of pent-up demand.  So not only is this situation highly frustrating for would-be home buyers, particularly our young people and growing families, it also places more pressure on an already overburdened rented sector at a time when industry recovery should be being fully nurtured.

“Yet over six weeks from the new £125m funding for housing supply announced in the Draft Budget, we still await details of how this investment is to be allocated.

“Scotland needs greater commitment and bold action from politicians of all parties and at all levels if is to ensure its people have access to the range of quality housing options they deserve.”

Ed Monaghan

Ed Monaghan

Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel Group, added: “The continued rise in new build completions is welcome news for the industry particularly given the increasing contribution from the private sector. As a business we are seeing sales and site footfall rising consistently and our recent annual results were back to pre-recession levels.

“It is important to highlight the impact Help to Buy (Scotland) has undoubtedly played in boosting sales and consumer confidence. The success of the scheme highlights how crucial initiatives that stimulate the market are to the industry and we would therefore call upon the Scottish Government to look again at level of funding available to maintain this important initiative.”

The increase in the latest quarter was driven by a rise in the number of private sector led new build completions which rose to 3,676, an increase of 1,150 homes (46 per cent) compared to the same quarter in the previous year. Meanwhile the number of new housing association homes fell by 47 (7 per cent) compared to the same quarter in 2013 and new local authority homes also decreased in this period by 59 (19 per cent).

However the number of new houses built in the year to end June 2014 still remains well below pre-recession levels, and is 38 per cent below the figure of 25,503 homes recorded in the year to end June 2007.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess said the latest completion figures bring the Scottish Government closer to its target of delivering 20,000 homes for social rent by March 2016, with 80 per cent of homes completed.

University to research whether recovered fly ash can be used in concrete

EPM-Civil-ConcreteLab13-option2The University of Dundee is to lead a research project into the recovery and use of stockpile fly ash to boost the construction sector.

Teaming with the UK Quality Ash Association (UKQAA), the representative organisation for the producers and users of coal ash in the UK, the university’s Concrete Technology Unit (CTU) will investigate whether stockpiled fly ash could be recovered and used as a pozzolana in concrete and cement.

The research programme – the first of its kind in recent years – will be significant for the construction sector. With demand on the rise for high quality fly ash, the research could help give the sector access to material previously thought unusable. It’s believed that there’s as much as 50 million tonnes of fly ash in storage at coal fired power stations across the UK, but until now there’s been no study into the amount of ash that could be recovered for use in construction.

Driven by the UKQAA, the study will first establish an accurate estimate of the amount of stockpiled ash in the UK. Samples from across UK ash fields will be collected and tested in laboratories to assess their performance as pozzolanas, used as a partial cement replacement in concrete. The CTU will then work with the UKQAA to develop a process route to transform stockpiled ash into fly ash which meets the specification of EN 450, the recognised standard for the use of fly ash in cement and concrete.

The benefits are potentially huge. Fly ash sourced directly from power stations is already widely used in the construction sector, from bricks and blocks to ready-mixed concrete in major engineering projects. If successful, the research could significantly boost supplies and allow the industry to make greater use of a valuable secondary material – cutting carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the need for primary raw materials in cement and concrete production.

Dr Robert Carroll, technical director at the UKQAA, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity. Fly ash demand continues to rise to keep pace with a growing construction sector, but availability is dependent on our use of coal power. Unlocking the potential of stockpiled ash in ashfields across the UK could increase supply, meet construction demand and exploit an otherwise underused material.

“Fly ash is a vital construction material and key constituent of sustainable concrete products. As a result there is a well established fly ash supply chain in the UK, with a consistent demand for raw material. With up to 50 million tonnes of fly ash stockpiled in the UK, this project has the potential to not only sustain a well established ash market but also create new ones.”

The flagship project is jointly funded by the UKQAA and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is expected to run for three and a half years. Based in the laboratories of the University of Dundee, the research programme is being lead by Dr Michael McCarthy, with a team including PhD research student Thomas Hope, who will work in close partnership with the UKQAA and its members.

Dr McCarthy added: “We have carried out research on fly ash in construction for more than 25 years and the project, investigating recovery and processing of stockpile material, is in keeping with much of our other work concerned with broadening the scope of its use. We look forward to our role in this important area.”

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Breedon continues to trade strongly

breedonBreedon Aggregates Ltd has reported a 20 per cent increase in revenue over the first 10 months of the year and said its profit margins were also increasing, meaning it thinks its full-year results will beat current market expectations.

In a trading update this morning, the firm said that for the 10 months to October, sales volumes of aggregates increased by 26 per cent, asphalt by 12 per cent and ready-mixed concrete by 18 per cent compared to last year.

Group sales revenue for the 10 months to October increased by 20 per cent to £226 million.  Assuming that weather conditions remain favourable for the remainder of the year, underlying EBITDA and underlying basic earnings per share for the full year are expected to be ahead of current market expectations.

Both the English and Scottish businesses have continued to make good progress, with product volumes in both countries ahead of last year and EBITDA margins improving. Trading conditions in England have continued to be strong, with high demand in key markets while in Scotland conditions have been more subdued; however some areas such as Aberdeen have seen strong growth.

The company said: “We are delighted to have invested around £40 million on acquisitions during the year to date and expect to improve the performance of these businesses as they become fully integrated with Breedon’s existing operations.

“The outlook remains positive, with a number of projects already secured for next year.  Both the Construction Products Association and the Mineral Products Association are forecasting further market growth in the UK.  In particular we expect some improvement in Scotland, with several large contracts starting in our market areas.  We are confident of making further progress in 2015.

“We will announce our preliminary results for the year to 31 December 2014 on 3 March 2015.”