Building's Client profile series returns with EasyEverything, the cybercafe that's planning to open 50 stores every year for the next three. The good news is, it's looking to partner. The bad news is, everything is easy except getting work for it.
EasyEverything, part of entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou's EasyGroup, describes itself as a retailer cum media company. It owns 21 high street stores offering 24-hour internet access in eight countries. The company opened its first store in Victoria, London in June 1999.

Key decision-makers
Three men make up EasyEverything's construction/property team. Matthew Lynwood is property director, Richard Wicks is acquisitions manager and Gavin Kieran is project manager.

Building investment
The company has funding in place to open at least eight more stores in 2001. It then plans a flotation towards the end of the year to fund a massive expansion. This will involve opening 50 stores each year for at least the next three years (2002-05). Stores so far have cost between £500,000 and about £2m, depending on their location and size.

Typical project
Fitting out prime high-street locations. The design is highly branded, with wood flooring, white ceilings and walls, and the corporate "easy orange" everywhere else. Stores are generally on two floors and hold between 100 and 800 computers.

There isn't a preferred procurement route – the firm uses anything from design and build to management contracting, depending on the country. It generally works with local architects using a standard specification to get projects through local planning. BDG McColl is currently working on a new reception area design for the stores.

Kieran says: "We rely on the relationships that our consultants have with contractors in the location. Once a contractor has proved their worth, we build on that relationship."

Demanding. After EasyEverything signs a lease, it wants the shop to be open in as short a time as possible.

However, it doesn't believe in a blame culture and prefers to work through mistakes with its partners rather than throw them off the team at the first error. "Unlike other retailers, we don't have a 'mess up and you're out' policy," says Kieran. "We expect everybody to accept and learn from any errors and in the long term we don't see the value in hiring and firing because of a mistake on one contract."

Ease of getting work
Quite difficult. So far, the team has worked with tried-and-trusted contacts. This may change as EasyEverything's workload and geographical coverage expands and it looks for consultants and contractors with local knowledge.

Favourite contractors
Davies Group, based in west London, for UK stores and StructureTone for USA and Europe. Easyeverything regards them highly: "both are excellent".

Favourite consultants Cost consultant Gleeds and architect and surveyor Leslie Clark.

How can you impress EasyEverything?
"Be honest," says Kieran. "We will seek references and we will use them. We dislike people who 'dis' the competition. People can impress us most by delivering. In terms of impressing us in the first place, contractors would have to tell us what value they can add from inception right through to the running of the shop. A lot of contractors build and then walk off." Having put together a portfolio of 22 shops in eight countries in just under two years, the three-man property team knows what it is looking for. "We know how long our programmes should be and how much things should cost," Kieran says. "We know the processes for gaining licences and permits and we measure against these benchmarks."

How are consultants/contractors kept in line?
The company says it expects a lot from its building teams and generally spends quite a lot on its stores. But with each store expecting about 10,000 visitors every day, the designs and the buildings have to stand up to the job. "We expect three years from our buildings without having to do anything except routine maintenance," said Kieran.

However, the company says it invests a lot of time and money in its consultants and contractors and will work with its teams to correct problems rather than point fingers when things go wrong.

"It is a massive learning curve for all of us building our shops," says Kieran.

How do you start a conversation with Kieran at a party?
Whatever you talk about, don't talk about work!