Contractor Bouygues UK plans to double the size of its business by 2010 by targeting PFI contracts in social housing.

The firm, which is the UK subsidiary of the Bouygues conglomerate in France, wants to increase turnover from £105m in 2005 to £200m.

Ian Gunter, head of business development for Bouygues UK, said it would concentrate on health and education, where it has a presence, but also expand into new-build social housing projects.

The firm is pitching for a £90m PFI housing scheme in Brent, north-west London and a £50m PFI scheme in Kent. It is also looking at social housing, for which the ODPM is allocating the third and fourth wave of PFI grants for private firms that meet its criteria.

Gunter said: "Health, education and housing are the three areas we are looking at. Housing brings together the expertise we have in regeneration and social housing in France and the PFI."

Bouygues is keeping a watching brief on the London 2012 Olympics. Gunter said: "I wouldn't say its top of our list of targets but we're certainly tracking what is going on."

Jean-Pierre Bousquet, the project director for the Home Office's headquarters in London and the Stade de France in Paris, is working on Bouygues' school building contracts.

Bouygues' interest in the social housing sector is an indication that the PFI market is picking up again after a string of scrapped schemes in Camden, London, and Ashford, Kent.

Health, education and housing are the three areas we are targeting

Ian Gunter, Bouygues UK

Just five councils have signed PFI estate refurbishment projects since the initiative was adopted by the Labour government in 2000. It is one of three ways that councils can bring stock up to the decent homes standard. The others are stock transfer and arm's length management organisation.

Andrew Charlesworth, chief executive of PFI specialist developer Regenter, said despite the problems experienced by some refurbishment schemes, interest was increasing.

He said: "There's a greater interest from the traditional contractors in new-build housing and regeneration schemes and there are a lot more schemes coming to market. There's a greater number of councils that are looking at PFI for regeneration and for new build.'

He added that many councils were taking a fresh look at PFI for refurbishment projects because of the problem of persuading tenants to vote for stock transfers.

Regenter is provisional preferred bidder on Lewisham council's PFI scheme to refurbish 1400 properties in the Brockley area of south-east London.

Lewisham is waiting for approval from the Treasury for its PFI credits for the scheme.

PFI at a snail’s pace …

  • June 2005 Ashford council drops PFI scheme to regenerate Stanhope estate
  • March 2004 Camden council tenants vote against plans for a Maiden Lane estate PFI scheme
  • June 2003 Government gives the green light for new-build only PFI schemes
  • March 2003 Manchester council signs first PFI council housing refurbishment
  • 2000 Government says PFI is one of three options for councils to improve stock