Dutch company Ballast Nedam this week announced a major restructuring of Ballast, its UK construction arm, writes Gordon Jon Thompson.
The restructuring will result in redundancies, two office closures and the departure of chief executive and chairman Bob Heathfield.

The move is part of a reorganisation of Ballast Nedam's poorly performing international construction businesses, which will involve 350 job losses in total. The businesses will lose about £40m this year, compared with the £2.4m profit it made in 2000.

Ballast marketing director Doug Barrat said the restructuring in the UK would focus on loss-makings regions in southern England, where the number of offices will be cut from 17 to 15. He would not say which offices were to close or how many jobs would be lost in the UK.

He said: "In some regions, we have up to four offices and we are looking at rationalising the number we have. It's an appropriate time to reassess some of our areas that are riskier than others."

Michael van Galen, from Ballast Nedam, has replaced Bob Heathfield as chief executive and chairman.

It’s an appropriate time to reassess some of our riskier areas

Doug Barrat, Ballast marketing director

It was revealed that Ballast is facing a number of claims over contracts, and that these had been taken into account in the restructuring.

Ballast Nedam has been concerned about Ballast for some time, and criticised its performance in the summer when it announced losses of £1.8m for the first six months of this year. The UK arm is Ballast Nedam's largest business outside the Netherlands, with an annual turnover of £400m.

The news added to the problems of German contractor Hochtief, which owns 48% of Ballast Nedam. The firm announced this week that it lost £36m in the nine months to 30 September. It made a £10m profit for the same period last year.