New arrival joined this week to grow workloads in firm’s traditional heartland

McLaren has appointed a former head of Kier’s major projects business to take charge of its southern region.

Matt Cova started this week, after spending two years as group managing director of Kent contractor Claritas.

He joined that firm in late 2020 from Kier where he had spent three years having previously spent close to 30 years at Skanska, which included spells at predecessors Trafalgar House and Kvaerner, where he was operations director.

Matt Cova (McLaren)

Matt Cova will report to McLaren group boss Paul Heather

McLaren said Cova will be tasked with broadening the region’s workload, which already includes data centres and industrial work, by targeting more leisure schemes as well as local authority frameworks.

He will report to group managing director Paul Heather rekindling a relationship that began when the pair first worked together at Skanska before Heather left five years ago to join Sir Robert McAlpine.

Heather said: “Alongside our success in data centres and industrial and logistics, there is great scope to enhance the capability of the region including the public sector. There is a huge untapped opportunity in integrating McLaren’s development and construction activities further.”

Under the rejig, the firm has made several other promotions at the southern business including preconstruction director David McDonnell and director designate for estimating Steven Florence. Jay Newman takes the wider role of commercial director for the region.

Last month, McLaren said a problem job in Brighton, the impact of covid and provisions to repair historic cladding work meant the firm racked up a £12.4m pre-tax loss in the year to July 2021 on revenue up 3% to £541m. But the firm said it was on track to return to the black for the year to July 2022 with a “modest” profit – expected to be between £1m and £10m on turnover up one third to £726m. It is eyeing turnover of around £850m in the current financial year which ends next July.