Australian parent poised to drop 125-year-old name, while John Spanswick announces retirement

Developer Lend Lease is set to drop the Bovis name from its construction business, a decision that will spell the end for one of UK contracting’s oldest and best-known brands.

It is understood that Lend Lease’s Australian board has been discussing the change, which it is preparing to finalise shortly.
There has been speculation over the future of the Bovis name, which dates back to the 19th century, since Lend Lease acquired the contractor in 1999 and branded it Bovis Lend Lease.

In another major change, which sources close to the situation say is unrelated to the rebranding, chairman John Spanswick will retire this year after more than 40 years at the company.

Spanswick has been chairman since 2005. Before that he was chief executive officer of Bovis Lend Lease in Europe, Middle East and Africa. He joined Bovis from school and was appointed a board director in 1980, helping to grow the business in the lead-up to its takeover by Lend Lease.

Spanswick, who received a CBE in 2006 for services to construction, will remain involved in the industry through his non-executive position with the HSE and work with the Considerate Contractors Scheme.

These latest developments follow a series of changes at the contractor over the past year. In the summer Lend Lease appointed Dan Labbad, then the head of Lend Lease’s European development arm, to oversee all its operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as part of a global move to a regional structure. This made him responsible for Bovis.

Shortly afterwards, Bovis chief executive Nick Pollard left. The company is recruiting for a managing director to replace him.

Lend Lease has begun a global review in the wake of its restructure, now being finalised. It has carried out client, consumer and internal research over how it presents itself and it is understood this is informing its decision to rebrand Bovis.

Labbad said: “This review is exploring the positioning for the Lend Lease group globally and has nothing to do with our commitment to construction in the UK, which, as I previously stated, remains and will continue to remain firm.”

Read Sarah Richardson’s blog on the future of Bovis Lend Lease.

What’s in a name? The history of the Bovis brand

1885 A building company in Marylebone founded by Francis Saunders is bought by Charles William Bovis, who renames the business after himself.

1908 Business changes hands but retains the Bovis name, and remains a family-managed business until…

1974 Bovis is acquired by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). By this time, the company is a UK-wide group covering construction, civils, housing and property.

1997 Bovis Homes is demerged from P&O.

1999 Lend Lease Corporation buys Bovis for £285m. Lend Lease Projects are merged with Bovis.