Four executives gain board status as contractor abandons traditional public–private structure

Paul Drechsler, the chief executive of Wates, this week marked the end of his review of the business by appointing four executives to the board and doubling its business divisions from two to four.

Drechsler, who joined the contractor in September, has abandoned the traditional structure of the business, which was divided into public and private sector work, and replaced it with four national business: construction, affordable housing, retail and interiors.

He has also promoted four staff to board level. The review was part of Drechsler’s broad remit to shake up the century-old family business.

Drechsler said: “We are trying to take a level of management out by bringing more to the top table. It is about getting the company organised for the future.”

Ian Burnett, who was running the north-eastern business, will retain that responsibility but has also been promoted to managing director of the affordable housing business across the UK. It has a turnover of about £150m.

Steve Price, who was heading the retail business but was not on the board, is now managing director of retail. He works with clients such as Marks & Spencer and B&Q in the UK and Ireland.

Matthew Kennedy has been appointed director of bidding, design and research and development. He was previously responsible for the education side of the business in the Midlands.

We want to take a level out by bringing more to the top table

Paul Drechsler, chief executive

The last new member of the board is Jonny Wates, a fourth-generation member of the founding family. He joins as strategic marketing director.

Dave Smith, who sat on the executive board as managing director of the former public sector business, has been appointed group chief operating officer and managing director of the construction division – the largest part of the business with a £380m turnover. He will be responsible for government frameworks, education, commercial and private residential work, as well as having responsibility for the London region.

The interiors business will continue to be headed by Dean Manning, although he will report to Dave Smith and has not been appointed to the board.

About one-third of Wates’ construction turnover comes from the education sector. The firm has been appointed on two city academies in London and one in Liverpool, and is expecting to bid for work on the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme.

Wates is also set to complete 10 schools in Leeds that were all single PFI projects, on time and to budget.