In this section, sponsored by South East Construction Expo, we have identified named individuals with purchasing authority at over 540 of the UK's largest housebuilding and contracting firms. Updated in Summer 2020, the information can be downloaded in Excel spreadsheet format here (you must be logged in). Our information includes corporate email addresses with approximately 51% being name-specific to the named contact. In addition, we have included Twitter handles and Linkedin information for the vast majority of entries. Furthermore, we have also identified those entries that appear in the Top 150 Contractors league table published by Building magazine. Non-subscribers may purchase the information as a database for £65 + VAT from our shop.
Sector and Profile
The UK Government estimates (as at November 2019) that the construction industry as a whole employs some 1.36 million people. Typically, the construction contracting sector would be defined as those businesses involved in:
- Construction of buildings, e.g. commercial, residential
- Civil engineering e.g. roads, tunnels, bridges, utilities
- Specialised construction activities, e.g. electrical and plumbing installation, demolition and site preparation, plastering, painting, roofing, etc.
The 2019 edition (published October) of the annual 'Construction Statistics' report from the ONS stated that, in 2018, there were 325,736 construction firms operating in Great Britain (Northern Ireland data is not included) - the highest level on record. Of these, 60,482 had four or more employees and 5,714 had twenty-five or more employees. The tables provide a full breakdown according to sizes of firms and also specific contracting speciality.
For their guide titled ‘Understanding the Main Contractor’, Competitive Advantage posit “It is a common misconception that the contractor is looking for the cheapest product, but often a more holistic approach is applied when looking for best value. The Contractor is seeking the most effective solution for the project, they are looking for quality, price, availability and then technical support.
Value from a manufacturer or supplier could come from offering a comprehensive product range, good availability, technical support or easy installation. It is also achieved by providing support in meetings, developing new products or working to solve problems.”
We have highlighted below (and throughout this site) some of the key marketing channels that are used to reach contractors and housebuilders but, needless to say, social media is likely to form an important of any strategy. Specialist marketing agency Pauley Creative periodically review the use of social media by contractors and in 2018 they published the following blog posts which provide a useful guide to the prevailing trends:
With such a wide and varied range of trades and disciplines, there are, needless to say, numerous and varied media opportunities for manufacturers and service providers to target the sector. In terms of trade shows, we have identified over 280 UK construction exhibitions scheduled for 2020-22, most of which will target specific sub-sectors of the industry and thereby attract contractors active in their respective field(s). For example, the annual CIH Housing exhibitions target the social housing sector, whilst in broader terms, UK Construction Week* estimated that, in 2019, some 7,651 people attended from the UK’s top housebuilding and contracting firms.
A number of major regional events also take place, enabling manufacturers and suppliers to focus on specific areas identified as having high levels of activity or benefiting from plans for major regeneration and/or infrastructure development. For example, the latest ONS Statistics, mentioned above, reveal that a third (108,705 of the 325,736) of construction firms registered in Great Britain (again, excluding NI) in 2018 were located in London and the South East, and regional trade events offer suppliers a targeted channel into that sector of the market. Our section sponsors, South East Construction Expo, organise major regional exhibitions every year in Sussex and Surrey, providing exhibitors and visitors with presentations and market intelligence on the major forthcoming construction opportunities. These events also provide product manufacturers and suppliers with the additional benefit of free, one-to-one, meet the buyer opportunities – see below.
In addition to those mentioned above, there are many other national and regional exhibitions across the UK which include contractors and housebuilders in their visitor profiles, such as Futurebuild*, London Build* and Regen*.
(* Construct UK is a media partner to these exhibitions.)
Similarly, many of the industry's journals reach contractors either in specific sub-sectors with publications such as Housebuilder or broadly via titles such as Construction News and Building. Our index of 330+ UK construction industry journals provides circulation and advertising data and also a short profile of the target audience for each title. It can be downloaded here.
Meet the Buyer Events
The industry plays host to many 'Meet the Buyer' events across the country every year and these can be particularly useful to product manufacturers/suppliers since, generally, they provide forums for short, pre-arranged, one-to-one meetings with senior buyers from many of the UK's major contracting and housebuilding firms.
South East Construction Expo is one of the industry’s longest established, free to attend, Meet-the-Buyer event organisers. Forming an integral part of their annual construction exhibitions, these events attract senior buyers from many of the UK’s national and regional contractors, housebuilders, developers and architects. With over 6,000 appointments available, these two events offer construction product suppliers and service providers the opportunity to meet senior buyers and specification decision makers on a one-to-one basis at meetings pre-arranged by South East Construction Expo. Not only is attendance free for construction product manufacturers and suppliers, but participation is welcomed by both exhibitors and non-exhibitors. In order to make the most of the opportunities presented, the organisers offer a few easy tips to follow:
- Before the meeting: set out your objectives for the meeting, research the company, their purchasing frameworks, ensure you know who you are meeting and their responsibility in the purchasing process.
- At the meeting: listen - these meetings are more about starting to build a relationship than an opportunity to pitch. Find out where the synergies between you are, what is the purchasing process, how can your business add value.
- After the meeting: make sure to take every opportunity at the event to perhaps bump into the buyer again, so head off to any lunch meetings or the dinner. Also schedule a follow up after the day and be sure to connect with them on social media.
A number of other trade exhibitions also play host to meet the buyer–type events. There are also numerous, non-exhibition connected ones across the country, organised by companies such as Platform Events and Forum Events, who offer highly targeted meetings with decision makers in specific sub-sectors, such as architecture and design, facilities management, construction and building. We have included a separate section for these and many other Meet the Buyer events in our Construction Events Calendar.
The UK Construction Industry has awards for almost every sector and professional discipline. This provides building product suppliers and service providers with highly targeted promotional opportunities through sponsorship and associated marketing. In general terms, award sponsorship can provide companies with direct and tangible promotion in the form of:
- branding on the event's website and social media platforms
- logo featured on all e-newsletters, notices and bulletins
- branding on ceremony tickets
- prominent display of logos at the ceremony
- credits on press releases
We have compiled a database detailing over 170 major award events offering sponsorship opportunities in the UK construction industry which can be viewed here (log-in required). Many of these events are focused on contractors and housebuilders, such as the Housebuilder Awards and Building's Award series which include: Contractor of the Year (up to £300m); Major Contractor of the Year (over £300m); Housebuilder of the Year; and Specialist Contractor of the Year.
Sponsorship and promotional opportunities are also available regionally via award ceremonies such as the South East Construction Awards.
Trade Bodies and Associations
Finally, relevant UK trade bodies can also prove to be sources of useful information and there are many established to represent specific, individual disciplines within the broad contracting sector. For example, The Builders Conference has a large, nationwide membership of contractors, sub-contractors and consultants, and provides comprehensive tender information, whilst Build UK represents “....the interests of 11,500 specialist contractors and other organisations committed to industry collaboration”. Our indices of UK construction industry trade organisations include a database of 185 bodies which specifically represent those contractors and professionals operating in particular fields such as brickwork, roofing, plastering, plumbing, heating & ventilating, drywalling, facilities management, insulation, drainage, etc. You can view the list here.