Dan Robinson, from Gus Robinson Developments, confident of industry's future

The Advertiser Series: Dan Robinson, chairman of Gus Robinson Developments Dan Robinson, chairman of Gus Robinson Developments

A CONSTRUCTION boss says North-East firms have reason to be optimistic as the sector increases at its fastest pace for a decade.

Dan Robinson, chairman of Hartlepool-based Gus Robinson Developments, says confidence is returning to the industry as buyers clamour to get on the market.

Mr Robinson was speaking after figures showed housing activity was at its highest since November 2003, with companies taking on more workers than at any time in the last six years.

The results, from the Markit/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers' Index, revealed the construction industry had lifted to 62.6, its best level since August 2007, with any figure above 50 signalling growth.

Construction bosses, who last month claimed the industry was rising like a phoenix from the ashes, say the Government's Help to Buy scheme, which allows buyers to take on a property with a five per cent deposit, has helped fuel the growth.

The Markit report comes after The Office for National Statistics last month reported a 2.5 per cent surge in the construction sector, as the economy grew at its fastest pace in three years.

Mr Robinson said the results showed the economic shackles were beginning to be loosened, but warned of a skills shortage.

He said: “The upturn is a prime indicator for economic recovery because when construction and housing start to move, the economy will follow.

“It’s been led from the South-East, but things are certainly picking up in this region and I'm very optimistic moving forward.

“However, with that comes added pressures, particular in terms of finding skilled people.

“With more work about, the best people soon get picked off for the best jobs, and we need to ensure we have skilled people throughout.”

Mr Robinson, a former fighter jet pilot who attended the US Top Gun school, said the company had overcome a tough period.

Employing 100 workers, it recently completed a £1.7m social housing project and is working on an accomodation block for Cleveland College of Art and Design, in Hartlepool.

He said: “We've been hit harder than most in the North-East, but we are through the worst of it and I have every reason to be optimistic not just for this business, but for the construction sector and the region.”

Tim Moore, Markit senior economist, warned the industry has a long way to go to achieve pre-recession levels.

He said: “Construction activity continues to spring back to life, however, growth is still coming from a low base as output levels rebound from a deep and protracted double-dip recession.

“There is still a huge loss of output to recoup.”


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