Troubled times for the demolition industry - the 2010 D&Ri100

20 May 2010

This year's D&Ri listing paints a picture that reflects the tough economic conditions being experienced by the construction industry worldwide.

It will come as no surprise to anybody that this year's D&Ri100 ranking shows a substantial fall in the total value of the work carried out by the world's top 100 contractors.

The headline figures are stark - 2009 reported revenues stand at US$4,069.4 million. This is a fall of 12.1% on last year's comparable number of 4,625.4 million, which in turn was down by just 4% on the comparable figure for 2007.

It should be pointed out that sourcing the data this year was probably the most problematical process in my five years as editor of D&Ri. Despite an extensive emailing campaign and distribution of the D&Ri form, the number of companies willing to share their data was substantially down on last year, forcing us to rely more heavily on the various financial reporting services we make use of.

Perhaps many companies were less willing to provide information because it might be viewed as bad news.

The cumulative totals for the various geographical regions need some explanation. This year, North American demolition companies contributed 35.4%, or US$1,439 million of the revenue in the D&Ri bottom line, down from 40% (US$2,030.6 last year).

With many of the North American companies reporting substantially reduced turnover in 2009 (in some cases in excess of -50%), this is no surprise. Indeed, only four US companies have made it into the top 10 against seven last time.

There is no question that this reflects on the fact that anecdotal evidence suggests that the demolition sector in North America was very much in the doldrums during 2009.

The European demolition industry at first glance appears to have fared better. This region contributed US$2,391.3 million to the total, in fact fractionally up on the total last year of US$2,377.5 million.

This, however, is a result of a number of European and Eastern European contractors appearing on the list for the very first time who have substantial turnovers.

The best placed of these is Belgian outfit Aclagro MV, who is closely followed by the UK's Erith Group. Indeed, of the 10 newcomers to the D&Ri100, only two hail from North America.

Once again, we have been making a major effort to identify companies who should feature in the D&Ri100 and obtain the necessary financial data, especially in the developing regions of the world where demolition is growing.

In general terms, the European demolition industry does however seem to have been less affected by the economic downturn. Many of the larger European companies reported, or were reported as having financial results that were actually in excess of the corresponding figure for 2008, or at worst were only a fraction down.

It does have to be said, however, that D&Ri is well aware that there are others that entered insolvency during the period covered by the 2010 D&Ri100.

LVI still tops the pile, but this should be taken with a pinch of salt since the only figure we have been able to obtain for this company is an overall total for its activities, which cover a range of services and we have been unable to identify the specific figure or percentage that relates to this company's demolition work.

The top 10 companies contributed US$1,347.7 million or 33.3% of the overall total, broadly in line with the situation in previous years. Five feature figures over US$100 against four last year but the UK's Keltbray has leapfrogged Brandenburg, who has dropped from 2nd to 4th.

Indeed, it is noticeable that only two of the top 10 are reported as having seen substantial declines in revenue and both of these are US-based, again confirming the challenging nature of market conditions in this region.

The top 50 companies on the listing contribute US$3,186.6 or 78.6%, a figure once again broadly in line with the comparable percentage last year.

Despite the generally gloomy nature of the results posted in this year's D&Ri 100, there is one figure that is still on the up. This is the threshold figure that has to be exceeded to actually make it onto the D&Ri100.

Last year, this figure stood at US$11.5 and this year it stands at US$12 million - perhaps not a large gain, but a gain nevertheless.

There are some notable absentees from this year's list, including one of the star performers from last year, Russian contractor Association of Demolition. In a number of cases, this absence is simply because the companies concerned have not supplied numbers as they have in the past and we have been unable to obtain reliable figures through the reporting services we use.

This was the case with Association of Demolition.

As with many things in the construction sector nobody really knows exactly how many demolition contractors, large and small, are currently active around the world. In addition, many are privately owned and keep the data on their financial performance close to their chests.

I like to believe that the D&Ri listing contains most of the leading large and medium sized contractor but acknowledge that while we make every effort to contact sizeable contractors around the world, there will nevertheless be omissions.

If readers feel their company deserves to be included in the D&Ri100 and they are able to share the necessary data, they should make contact with us. We endeavour to produce as comprehensive a listing as possible, but we can only achieve this with the assistance of the industry itself.

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