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One of Overbury's achingly stylish offoce fit-outs
One of Overbury's achingly stylish offoce fit-outs

Morgan Sindall’s fit-out arm has weathered the hostile weather in the market with some aplomb: whole other contractors have got into serious difficulties, Overbury has grown and grown and is presently the largest outfit in its market by a good £50m, measured by sales. And, just to warm the cockles of the supply chain’s heart, it has done so while instigating a no retentions policy – the first fit-out contractor to do so. This is already in place with key suppliers, and will be extended to all trade contractors in the near future.

And talking of the supply chain, Overbury has done its best to achieve a marriage of minds with its regular trade contractors, by means of seminars to share knowledge and improve working relationships, and feedback sessions.

The no retentions hints at the firm’s awareness of social responsibility, and this is born out by its parent company’s listing on the FTSE4Good Index. And as for its relationship with its own staff, it must be a good company to work for: its average wage of £56,900 is the third highest in the industry.

Runners up

Barlows’ client list reads like a who’s who of top firms, both in terms of volume and the profile of their work. As well as handling the McDonald’s account, it has the two top retail fit-outs of the year: Selfridges, presently the architectural critics favourite department store, and Marks & Spencer’s Lifestore in Newcastle. Barlows has won the double-page spreads in architectural magazines thanks to its conceptual designs and its track record of delivering them. We can’t wait to find out what 2005 has in store …

David McLean
David McLean’s specialist retail division is a sturdy eight-year-old who looks to have considerable promise. He was fathered back in 1996 as part of the firm’s steady relationship with Shell Oil, and its growth since has been impressive, as has its dynamism and its appetite for work – it is presently working on long-term roll outs for clients such as Shell, Marks & Spencer, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest Bank, Barclays Bank, Lloyds/TSB, Thresher Group, and the Department for Works and Pensions. What will it be up to when it’s a teenager?

Ibex interiors
Ibex Interiors is a smallish firm that concentrates on the very top end of the commercial market, which places an obvious premium on the quality of staff. Small it may be, but its jobs go all the way up to £20m projects, and its success in tackling them is attested by the fact that it has a 70% success rate in securing repeat business. The secret of this hit rate is the firm’s policy of reinvesting profit in its staff equipment, systems and its working environment.

Regardless of whether you’re a shiny-faced convert to the Egan philosophy or curmudgeonly cynic, you have to admit that key performance indicators are the nearest think we have to an objective measure of a firm’s performance. So, well done Inspace: in its work on the first two phases of the government’s four-year programme to refit its job centres, it achieved the best KPI scores of the 14 contractors involved. No surprise, then, that its performance and operational delivery was the best out of all fit-out contractors involved in the programme.

Mivan is firm with a well-established track record in fit-out field – its has successfully completed more than 100 projects in the past five years. So successfully, in fact, that its turnover has climbed from £26m in 2002/3 to £40m in 2003/4, an increase of more than 50%. Cynics might connect this with the fact that it’s been working on the £23m fit-out of the Scottish parliament, which in any case has a beautiful interior. But it is also attributable to the diversity of the work undertaken, much of it high-value and for demanding clients, such as the fit-out of luxury apartments at 199 Knightsbridge for Multiplex.