The year has just begun and already one of the oldest names in UK construction is on the way out
Just a week into 2011 and there is already big news to take in. Straight out of the blocks is our exclusive that Lend Lease plans to drop the Bovis name as part of a major global review.
It marks the end of yet another construction dynasty. Moulded, expanded and nurtured by Sir Frank Lampl, Bovis’ name is steeped in history and associated with an array of major global construction projects.
But though the name’s demise comes as a surprise, it is hardly a shock. Aussie parent Lend Lease had long struggled to extract the kind of integration it would have desired from its British-born acquisition. Many had said such a rebrand would be needed to resolve what appeared to be in-built management tensions and territorial conflict and Lend Lease’s new top man in Europe, Daniel Labbad, now looks as if he will set out a vision for profitable growth across a fiercely competitive landscape.
There are, however, many questions that are still to be answered. Lend Lease insists it is not pulling out of construction or scaling back the amount of work it undertakes for other developers or, indeed, for itself. But many will wonder how the developer will extract maximum value from its internal construction expertise under the one umbrella. And there is concern is how the lack of demarcation will sit with rival developers as Lend Lease continues to vie for construction contracts.
My crystal ball
Today we’ve taken a detailed look at what lies ahead in 2011 - but first, here are a few predictions from me:
- Watch out for the large European contractors looking to acquire big in the UK, as there are few with the scale, capacity and expertise to manage and deliver the large nuclear, energy and infrastructure projects now up for grabs
- In 2010 we saw Laing O’Rourke suffer in the Middle East and the likes of Connaught and Rok go under. Expect a couple more this year, with the big players looking to snap up companies in distress across all disciplines
- Aside from the Shard, design standardisation will be the order of the day. Function will win over form - but let’s hope 2011 won’t be tarnished by a whole heap of rubbish going up
- Once ships have been steadied, expect to see an exodus of the industry’s elder statesmen as they take their money and run
- 2010 had its share of political tensions - a coalition in government, fury over public sector cuts and cabinet ministers appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. Can the Lib-Lab pact survive the tumult of the next 12 months? Watch that space.
Predicting is a risky business, and never more so than in a fast-changing environment. So only one thing is truly certain, as we enter 2011: how you win your work, and from whom, will not be the same at the end of the year as it is today.