Davis Langdon & Everest is back again, bringing its exemplary best practice approach and its eye for efficiency into play to win this category, sponsored by Hays Montrose
1st - Davis Langdon & Everest
A perennial contender – and regular winner – of this award, Davis Langdon & Everest sets the standard. About 30% of the firm's work is conducted under long-term partnering frameworks, and it employs structure performance measures to set and record improvements in service delivery with major clients such as BAA, J Sainsbury and BP. Its Chiswick Park (Phase 1) development in west London, the regeneration of a former bus works into a sophisticated office campus, is a typical example of how the firm operates. One key to the project was the extensive use of partnering to target costs below industry norms and deliver faster construction times and higher quality. Turnover at the company has grown 90% in the last three years, with profit up 119%. DL&E invests 5% of its turnover in training and the same amount on its IT systems – it's no wonder, then, that turnover per employee was raised by 7.4% last year.

'The judges particularly admired the firm's approach to best practice issues'

2nd - Franklin + Andrews
In the past three years, Franklin + Andrews has grown tenfold, from 700 employees to 7000, with its global presence similarly expanded after the merger with Mott MacDonald in May last year. Numbers aside, the firm likes to think of itself as employer of choice, with 70% of its staff covered by Investors in People – and a number of staff comments from the IiP report back this up.

The company was appointed by the DETR (as it then was) to carry out research and guidance on sustainable tower development.

In collaboration with Laing O'Rourke, it also developed the Customised Office Solution package to improve efficiency and reduce building costs. The system was put to the test on Laing O'Rourke's new headquarters, built last year, and the glass-clad office block is not only cheaper than average to maintain but is more environmentally friendly.

'We were very taken by the wealth of client testimonials in F+A's submission, and its involvement in Laing O'Rourke's innovative new HQ'

3rd - AYH
It's been a record year for AYH, which uses its specialist resources to service established clients. It must be doing something right, as some of these clients have been coming back for more than 25 years. The company has also been developing in Europe, through directly owned firms, strategic alliances and major shareholdings in established firms. A major restructure in the last year divided the company into market sectors, each with a range of complementary services not only for capital construction projects but also in occupancy services and facilities advice. Its current projects include a commission from Arsenal Football Club and west London's 200,000 m2 Paddington Central development. Operating profit in the last full financial year increased 72% to £2.95m on a turnover that rose 37% to £22.3m. And staff should be happy, too, with £1.6m distributed in profit share and bonus schemes.

'Their profits almost doubled and they played a key role in one of the year's best known projects – the Paddington Central development'