Tidd, who was director of Laing Construction’s southern arm, started at Churchfield last month, and wants to increase its £70m turnover by 20% a year for the next five years.
The shift to new-build work could see the six-year-old firm competing directly with major new-build contractors in the central London market. Tidd said: “We are already looking at two new-build opportunities in the £10m-20m market. And with my background and experience, we would not be averse to mega projects.”
Tidd joins another former Laing director Brian Richardson, who became director and non-executive chairman of Churchfield late last year. The two worked together on a number of Laing projects, including the £70m Grosvenor Place building for Grosvenor Estates.
Tidd said he decided to join Churchfield before Laing announced its 850-job cull last October, following five months of discussions with the fit-out business. “My reputation within Laing was very entrepreneurial,” he said. “Laing has to be commercially wary in that you have to work in a controlled framework. I was quite excited by the opportunity to leave a public limited company for a private one.”
As well as pushing Churchfield into new build, Tidd also wants the business to take on new building types, such as highly serviced warehouses for Internet businesses.
He said that Churchfield, which has 132 staff in its two central London offices, was trying to establish relationships with consultants and suppliers that would allow it to bid for work with them.
He added that some major contractors’ move away from competitive tendering was leaving space for smaller players to win work. “A number of the major contractors are in a fog as to which direction they should go in, and I think there is a fantastic gap for a medium-sized company to steal the middle ground.
“Clients now have a fairly limited choice of contractors to put on bid lists. Therefore, you can gain if you can convince them that you will be around and of substantial size in five years.”
Tidd said Churchfield would consider acquisitions of both public and private companies. “It could be a high-quality refurbishment contractor or a contractor that has a track record in new build,” he said.
He also hinted that the board might decide to float or sell the company in five years’ time. “We need to get the company into an extremely strong position and to have a secure financial platform that may be attractive to other companies or investors,” he said.