Saudi contract awards surge to highest in four years

Saudi Aramco continued awarding projects to international contractors at its Marjan oil field. (Getty Images)
Updated 11 September 2019

Saudi contract awards surge to highest in four years

  • The contract tally reached SR64.3 billion during the second quarter — up 32 percent on the previous quarter and an increase of 92 percent on a year earlier
  • The oil and gas sector overwhelmingly dominated the contracts awarded in the second quarter, accounting for almost three-quarters of the total

LONDON: The value of contracts awarded in Saudi Arabia almost doubled in the second quarter compared to a year earlier, led by the energy, property and military sectors, according to a report published on Tuesday.
The contract tally reached SR64.3 billion ($17.2 billion) during the period — up 32 percent on the previous quarter and an increase of 92 percent on a year earlier, the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USABC) said in its report.
It represents the highest value of contracts awarded by quarter in four years with more awards made in the first half of this year than the whole of 2018.
“This highlights the resurgence in 2019, which is on pace to match the construction boom witnessed prior to the brief economic downturn,” USABC said.
The collapse of oil prices in 2014 led to billions of dollars worth of projects being placed on hold throughout the Gulf, but business activity in Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy has started to accelerate.
While a majority of the contracts were awarded by the government, the private sector was an active participant in the real estate sector in particular, USABC noted.
The oil and gas sector overwhelmingly dominated the contracts awarded in the period, accounting for almost three-quarters of the total.
Saudi Aramco continued awarding projects to international contractors at its Marjan oil field as well as the Tanajib oil complex in the Eastern Province, the council said.
For the second consecutive quarter, the Eastern Province contributed the largest share of awarded contracts by region.
The order pipeline for the rest of the year also looks set to continue the strong momentum, led by Aramco’s Marjan and Berri field projects as well as the first phase of the Red Sea Tourism Project.


Britain’s grocery sales lack festive spirit

Updated 19 min 11 sec ago

Britain’s grocery sales lack festive spirit

  • Sales of popular Christmas food purchases are down compared with last year

LONDON: Sales growth at Britain’s supermarkets slowed in the last quarter, industry data showed on Tuesday, as shoppers delayed their festive season preparations ahead of a national election on Dec. 12. 

Market researcher Kantar said all of Britain’s big four supermarket groups — market leader Tesco, Sainsbury’s , Asda and Morrisons — recorded sales declines over the period and lost market share to the German-owned discounters Aldi and Lidl which are aggressively opening new stores. Kantar said total British grocery sales rose 0.5 percent year-on-year in the 12 weeks to Dec. 1, having increased 1 percent in its November data set. 

“We’re yet to see consumers ramp up their spending in the run up to Christmas and, as anticipated, Black Friday only brought a limited boost for the grocers,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar. 

“With the general election now only days away, people are waiting to fill their cupboards for the festive break,” he said, noting, for example, that sales of Christmas puddings and seasonal biscuits are down 16 percent and 12 percent in the past four weeks, compared with this time last year. Kantar said sales at Tesco fell 0.8 percent over the period, while Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons saw sales declines of 1.1 percent, 1.9 percent and 2.9 percent respectively. 

In contrast Aldi’s sales were up 6.2 percent and Lidl’s rose 9.3 percent, giving a combined market share of 14.1 percent. 

“While the big four all lost share in the past 12 weeks, 98 percent of the British public still visited at least one of their stores during the past three months,” said McKevitt. “Based on previous years, we expect them to increase their proportion of sales in the coming weeks as shoppers turn to familiar favourites and the traditional retailers in December.” 

Kantar said it was too early to say if Tesco’s new “Clubcard Plus” loyalty subscription scheme, launched last month, has had an impact on sales. Shares in Britain’s big supermarket chain were all down in early trade in London.