Contractors establishing a foothold in the area and enjoying significant contract wins

Balfour Beatty and Vinci have outlined separate plans to target large commercial schemes in London.

Neither firm has traditionally been associated with major office projects but both are rapidly establishing a foothold in this area and have enjoyed significant contract wins in recent months.

It emerged last summer that fellow contractor Morgan Sindall is aiming to grow its new London business to have a £150m-turnover over the next three to four years to exploit the capital’s office market, which, although troubled, is still seen as a relatively strong sector.

Commercial office work as a whole soared by 64% in the last three months compared with the same period last year, according to Barbour ABI.

Bob Clark, Balfour Beatty Construction Scottish and Southern managing director, said the firm is planning to focus on commercial schemes in the capital worth above £100m.

“We’ve been successful in the mid-sized projects of £20m-£40m and on projects such as the [Sixty London] scheme in Holborn which is worth £60m but our ambition is to work in a larger bracket,” he said.

Clark added that the firm’s appointment of Vince Lydon from Lend Lease, who will become head of commercial in the next month, was one of a number of new recruits in this area. He said those with knowledge of the capital’s commercial sector were especially sought after.

“What we’re seeing in London is what we’d hoped to see and we’re busy bidding for commercial work … I just hope that it can be sustained,” he said.

Andrew Ridley-Barker, managing director of Vinci Construction UK, confirmed Vinci is “very interested” in this sector.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Vinci had beaten rivals Kier and Skanska for the contract to build an £80m office block at the King’s Cross Central scheme for client BNP Paribas Real Estate.

 “We have been working with Vinci France because they do a lot of this kind of work in Paris and we’d like to exploit that expertise here in London,” he said.