Drees & Sommer opens London office and considers setting up shop in Birmingham next year

One of Germany’s largest construction consultants, Drees & Sommer, has decided to take the plunge and set up shop in the UK in spite of Brexit.

The €285m-turnover (£262m) Stuttgart-based project manager and engineer opened its first office in the UK in London last month and is already looking at the possibility of setting up another in Birmingham in the new year.

Götz Schönfeld, a manager at Drees & Sommer subsidiary DS Consulting, told Building the firm had made the move despite the EU referendum result because it believed in the fundamental strength of the UK market.

He said: “It’s crucial now, I think, regardless of Brexit, to get feet on the ground in the UK market. You can’t change the position of the UK among the business world in one, two or even 10 years.

“The UK will still be a very important entrance point for the European market and that’s what our clients and lots of international companies are thinking - therefore it’s wise for us to make this step into the UK market.”

David Ribbands, director at Drees & Sommer, agreed: “We needed to have a presence in the UK not only because of the import/export market, but because of clients we have that either have a UK presence or are thinking of coming into the UK and want to take us with them as a collaborative partner.”

Ribbands said the firm would target opportunities across all sectors, initially in the capital and the Midlands. He sees the most growth potential in automotive, real estate and industrial work, as well as in the public sector.

Drees & Sommer would like to grow organically in the UK, but will consider making acquisitions in specialist areas.

Founded in 1970, the company employs 2,150 staff across 40 offices worldwide, with operations in the US, Brazil, Russia, China and the Middle East.

Commenting further on the vote to leave the EU, Ribbands said: “Brexit is a concern, but one the business as a whole has taken on board and has mitigation plans in place depending on whether it is a hard or soft Brexit. Regardless of what happens we will still be here and won’t suddenly be pulling out.”

He added: “The move is something that the business has been looking at for a long time and not something that has been taken lightly.”