Yuanda was awarded high-profile job by Laing O’Rourke

Chinese skyscraper specialist Yuanda has bagged a multimillion-pound contract on the prestigious Cheesegrater tower in London - believed to be the biggest UK job ever to go to a Chinese contractor.

Alistair Lazenby, managing director of Yuanda Europe, confirmed that the company - which has worked on some of the world’s tallest towers - has been awarded the cladding package on the £300m skyscraper by main contractor Laing O’Rourke.

Yuanda will manufacture the complex curtain wall for the 47-storey City scheme in China and ship these parts to the UK for installation.

We are going to see more Chinese entrants over the next 10-15 years

Noble Francis, CPA

Industry experts said the major win could be the first of many for Chinese firms in the UK. Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said: “We are going to see more Chinese entrants over the next 10-15 years as they look to apply the expertise they’ve developed during the country’s prolonged period of growth in overseas markets.”

The news also comes just months after Chinese architecture practice Neri & Hu snatched one of London’s most prestigious hotel projects in Covent Garden, edging out high-profile architects that included Jestico + Whiles and Woods Bagot.

Yuanda’s win on the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed Leadenhall building, known as the Cheesegrater because of its distinctive tapering design, comes at the expense of long-term favourites for the job, Germany-based Gartner.

It is understood Gartner also investigated the practicality of manufacturing the curtain wall in China and transporting the components to the UK in order to compete with Yuanda on price.

Gartner was widely predicted to win the job due to its earlier involvement in the City scheme. The specialist was appointed on the Cheesegrater in 2007 but was dropped when British Land shelved the scheme because of the recession.

Yuanda completed its first significant job in the UK last year on the cladding for the Park Plaza hotel near Westminster Bridge. It is currently working on a mixed-used development in Snow Hill in Birmingham and a Thames Gateway project.

Lazenby said: “We are very pleased to be associated with this project - our biggest contract so far in the UK. The curtain wall will be manufactured in China to British standards.”